I keep seeing her face, upturned in the pool. Her long hair darkened by the water, stringy and tangled and noodling around her neck. Her eyes are closed, her body floating. Her lips are parted just slightly, and it looks as if she’s resting, tranquil and at peace.The Hunting Wives, Chapter 1 opening
The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.
Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.
Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.From Goodreads
Book Content Warnings: stalking, infidelity, peer pressure/coercion, underage affair, date rape drugs, alcoholism
May Cobb’s The Hunting Wives is a sexy tale of southern girls-gone-bad following an unlikeable narrator. Main character Sophie has moved with her young family from her high-energy big city job in Chicago as a lifestyle magazine editor to a quaint Texas town. There she envisions an idyllic, relaxed family life as a homemaker and writer. But Sophie finds the neighborhood decidedly dull. That is, except for Margot and her tight-knit group of high class women. At first Sophie simply wants to fit in with them, positioning herself to brush shoulders and find an in to their exclusive group. Once she’s in, however, Sophie finds their secretive shooting club isn’t the only thing they keep under wraps. She quickly finds herself over her head, casting around for help and unsure who she can truly trust.
Social media features semi-prominently in the story, which is something I’m not a huge fan of. Sophie leverages platforms like Facebook, Instagram, blogging, and texting throughout the book in order to research and interact with other characters. Although I acknowledge this is probably realistic for a modern book, it’s just not something I enjoy reading. Personally I read to get away from all the technology and social media so I’m able to deal with it but don’t enjoy when characters use it too much.
Margot’s group of women also have a cliquey high school vibe. There’s excessive drinking and gossiping, the anxiety of being gaslit and ghosted, and everyone at the whim of Margot’s flighty attention. It was quite painful watching some characters’ family relationships suffer as they try to worm their way into the very conditional acceptance of this group. In the end I didn’t really like any of the main characters based on their personality and decisions. The one character I did empathize with was Graham, Sophie’s husband, but he mostly served to emphasize how off the rails her choices takes her life.
Pacing starts a bit slow with focus on developing character dynamics then accelerates swiftly starting about two-thirds the way through. Based on the plot this was reasonable, but since I didn’t love many of the characters the beginning felt a little more difficult to get through.
Overall I wanted to like this book based on the unique premise, but there were too many pieces I didn’t love. This book might work for readers who’d enjoy a sort of grown up Mean Girls meets southern mystery-thriller vibe 🙂