Book review: One By One by Ruth Ware

As soon as I heard about this alpine whodunnit set in a ski chalet by Ruth Ware, author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Turn of the Key, I snapped it up. A beautiful chalet with velvet sofas, sheepskin throws, roaring fire, a pool and breathtaking views sounds like the perfect place for a corporate gathering but of course their stay turns out to be anything but idyllic. An avalanche is only the start of the problems facing the employees of music tech company, Snoop. As one by one they’re picked off, it’s obvious the killer’s among them. Those that are left have to find a way to keep safe together but who is it safe to trust?

The setting for this story is superb – a perfect complement to the chilling events. I really enjoyed immersing myself in the descriptions of the beautiful but hazardous landscape during the snowpocalypse. As a device it’s perfect for cutting the characters off from the outside world with no means of communication, creating a claustrophobic locked room situation.

While it did take me a while to get to grips with who was who – twelve characters are introduced in quick succession and Snoop employees also each have a Snoop ID name – they are distinct and intriguing, thoroughly unlikeable but compelling. Descriptions of seven of the employees are given at the start from their company website, which I found useful to refer back to.

The story’s told in two viewpoints: chalet girl Erin and former Snoop employee, Liz. Tensions among the group start to show as they fall out over the future of the company with a lot of money at stake. Although I had my suspicions about the killer early on, revelations slip out about people’s pasts and different motives emerge so I couldn’t be sure.

The suspense builds gradually during the first half of the book but shoots up and up, even past the point where we know for certain who the killer is because it’s far from the end of the story, turning into a nail-biting cat and mouse game before everything’s neatly wrapped up.

I’d recommend this book to fans of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

One By One is published by Harville Secker, an imprint of Vintage, part of Penguin Random House and is available now in hardback, kindle and audiobook, and in paperback in September.

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