The concept of One by One is really appealing in an Agatha Christie way, where a remote location gets cut-off from the outside world and one by one the stranded characters are murdered, with the killer being one of them.
Erin and Danny operate a ski chalet in France and are hosting a company retreat for Snoop, a social media company that enables subscribers to tune into each other’s music playlists in real-time. With celebrity users, fans can listen to exactly what their favourite person is listening to – a bit like two people sharing earphones by putting an earpiece in each other’s ear.
Topher and Eva are the two major shareholders in the company and control equal equity positions except for a minority shareholder, Liz. Liz is socially awkward, not quite fitting in with the rest of the company which is made difficult as she is not an employee. With a company buyout offer on the table and Topher and Eva entrenched into opposite positions, Liz has the deciding vote to take the sale deal or not and has reason to support both Topher and Eva. When an avalanche cuts contact and access to the outside world, the isolated group mysteriously start dying and we have a traditional whodunit on our hands. The narrative is delivered from the voices of Erin and Liz, probably the two most interesting characters and yet they still left me in consternation at times.
The ingredients are there for an engrossing murder mystery, the setting in a snow-covered landscape with the biting cold playing its part, and the backdrop and motive with a company and its shareholders making a life-changing decision on how their futures will be secured. Even guessing the killer early is not off-putting as the puzzle maintains red herrings and multiple choices. Having read several books from Ruth Ware there are common issues that repeat – the secondary characters lack development and there are always noticeable plot holes. This novel is no exception and a story that promises so much doesn’t quite deliver. Ruth Ware has an unfortunate capacity of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Ruth Ware fans will enjoy this one and I would rate it 3.5 stars. I would like to thank Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.