Simon & Schuster, 2020
Crime Fiction/Thriller; 352 pgs
Set in a luxurious mountaintop chalet in the French Alps, the Snoop shareholders and directors meet to discuss the future of their company. It could mean the end or the start of something new for them, depending on who has their way. A lot of money is on the line and tensions are high between all parties. When one of them ends up missing, believed to be dead in an avalanche as a blizzard blows in, it puts everyone else on edge. When one of them turns up dead, it puts doubts in all their minds. Could the first have been murder too? No one knows who to trust exactly. All they know is that there is a killer among them.
It was hard not to want to snuggle deeper under my blanket as I read One by One, the cold stormy weather coming off the pages. The novel is told from the perspective of two of the characters: Erin, the hostess and one of the caretakers of the resort, and Liz, a former employee of the company who is only there because she owns shares in the company and so has voting rights in any decision that will be made. I liked having the two viewpoints--one from the inside and one from the outside of the group. It offered unique perspectives and insight into the other characters.
You can imagine most of the characters are not particularly likeable. Topher, the founder and leader of the bunch, is an entitled white man who is used to getting his way. Eva, the cofounder, is polished and also used to getting her way. Frankly, most of the Snoop employees fall into the privileged and entitled camp. I could not help but feel for Liz, especially in the beginning. She seemed so out of place among the more sophisticated Snoop staff. Erin and Danny are the resort's caretakers, Erin being the more down to earth of the two, but neither of the same elk as their guests.
I enjoy a good locked room mystery and this one did not disappoint in the end. I admit I found the beginning to drag on a bit. It takes awhile before the action starts. Once it did however, at about 30% of the novel, it didn't stop from there. Tension was high with suspicion falling on everyone, not to mention the outside threat of the storm which only added to their predicament. The stormy isolated setting was perfect for this type of novel.
While perhaps the whodunit part was not too hard to figure out after awhile, the why of it was an interesting twist, especially as the layers were unraveled. And those seemingly trivial chapter headers . . . Well, they are worth paying attention to as the story unfolds. I cannot say this is my favorite Ruth Ware novel. But I did find it entertaining and once I really got into it, I found it hard to put down.