Book Review: One By One by Ruth Ware

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Publish Date: September 8, 2020

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

Ruth Ware is a master at writing atmospheric suspense novels, and her latest book definitely lives up to that. 

At first there were ten. Ten work colleagues from the sexy music company Snoop travel to the beautiful and glamorous French Alps for a work retreat at the ritzy Chalet Perce-Neige. Snoop is a music app for your phone and it allows you to “snoop” or drop in and listen to songs that other people are streaming. You can follow ordinary people or even celebrities through Snoop. It’s like Spotify, but with your friend or a celeb as your DJ. Snoop is hugely popular and has millions of subscribers. 

Chalet Perce-Neige is a beautiful, traditional, and remote mini-castle that has a host, Erin, and a dedicated chef, Danny. Erin and Danny ensure that their guests have a wonderful time by pampering them and cooking gourmet meals.

The story is told in alternating perspectives by Erin and one of the guests, Liz, an ex-employee of Snoop who now has a 2% stake in the company. The start of the retreat begins with a hopeful, happy mood which quickly turns dark when an avalanche hits, the guests and hosts are trapped at the chalet with no electricity or running water, and many people end up dead.

I loved the atmospheric setting of the French Alps, the description of the beautiful chalet, and how Ruth Ware set this backdrop for her latest novel. I read this book during a summer heat wave, and it was lovely to be transported to the snowy, cold Alps.

There were a lot of characters, but it was not hard to keep them straight. They were so different and distinct that I had no problems tracking them. Like most of Ruth Ware’s books, most of the characters were unlikeable, but to my surprise, this one had a few likeable ones. Erin the chalet host, and Danny the chef were my two favorite. 

Ruth Ware usually writes slow-burning suspense novels where a couple characters die at a snail’s pace, but she amps up the thrill in this story. Characters died quickly and unexpectedly, and there were a few times that I felt spooked reading this story late at night. It was a nice refreshing change. 

The ending of the story is heart-pounding, fast-paced, and suspenseful, when two people are trapped and then one realizes that the other is The Killer. 

This book has all of the elements of a standout book for me: a thriller of complex characters with some that you love to hate, great backstories, a study of sins, mystery, suspense, and multiple storylines that weave together by the end. This writing has a cinematic feel to it and I hope it turns into a movie. 

This book reminds me of An Unwanted Guest by Shari LaPena (my review here). If you like that book, you’ll definitely like this one.  

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 4 Stars

This book is about greed, murder, grief, wealth, secrets, manipulation, creativity, abuse, and sociopaths. It’s an inside peek into the glitz and glamour of the music world and the pressures and high stakes of the tech world. I loved it and I couldn’t get enough.

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.

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