The unmissable new thriller from the queen of the modern-day murder mystery.
Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.
The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?
Ten guests. Two employees. One murderer. All of them stranded in a ski resort.
Ten employees of a tech company called Snoop head off to Chalet Perce-Neige in St Antoine for a corporate trip to discuss the future of the company. After an avalanche blocks them in, it’s not long until the guests and staff discover a murderer is amongst them.
I really enjoyed One by One; I loved getting lost in this murder mystery set in a cold and desolate landscape, with an interesting cast of characters to keep the reader not only intrigued, but rife with suspicion.
The story unfolds through the perspectives of one of the resort’s staff, Erin, and one of the Snoop’s founding members, Liz. The dual narration kept the story moving with a decent pace, and allowed me to profile everyone from an outsider-looking-in but also as a woman-on-the-inside perspective when shit hit the fan.
Although, I had difficulty with how the cast of characters were introduced to the reader. They were all clumped together at the beginning and it was initially hard to remember who was who as the story progressed. I actually had to make a list of the characters and their respective rolls to keep up. However, I really enjoyed the corporate company angle as it was interesting to see the power dynamics and it was fun when the juicy corporate dirty laundry began to unfold.
I appreciated Ware incorporating social media into the story. The company, Snoop, is a music app similar to one that rhymes with Notify, but this story’s app allows other users to listen alongside the main user to whatever they’re listening to. It’s meant to capture emanate the whole “where ever you are in the world, music connects us, like looking at the same moon vibe”. I quite liked this, as confusing as it was at first.
Regrettably, I found Erin’s subplot largely irrelevant to the story. It didn’t read as a natural fit, even though it clearly should have considering its context, but instead it felt forced into the main plot when it became a talking point in one of the chapters. It felt like it was to bulk up the content of the book rather than it having any meaningful contribution to the overarching story.
The climax of One by One was truly excellent and full of menace – when I was reading it, it was as if I was in a simulator and was experiencing the fight to survive alongside the characters. I was tense and willing the main character on every step (or ski) of the way.
The setting of the story was perfect, especially nearer the end, as it increased the ominous feeling of the difference between life and death. Snowy settings are used often, and I found Ware’s use of it well utilised due to the characters being cut off from the rest of the world and inaccessible for immediate rescue (or escape!)
Lastly, as much as I won’t be surprised if others find the culprit predictable, I personally didn’t find the book predictable. The majority of the cast of characters were all suspected at some point, it really felt like a game of Cluedo. I think the motive behind everything was quite good and I loved how Ware added a level of confusion, where some readers may be left with a sense of uncertainty as to whether to sympathise with the bad guy.
One by One is a fun and chilly locked room mystery. I couldn’t put the book down as I was desperate to find out what was going on – who the bad guy was and what the motives were – it was easy to get lost in this book. Ware is a good storyteller, spinning a story full of intrigue and tension that makes it easy to get lost in it all. I’m happy to report that one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 did not disappoint and I 100% recommend it.
Thank you kindly to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.
One by One by Ruth Ware
Published November 2020