One By One
Sept 8th, 2020
Simon and Schuster
One By Oneis a masterful who- done- it, by Ruth Ware. It reminds readers of the Clue Game as people keep getting killed, one by one, each by a different weapon in a different setting. The guessing game becomes ‘who is the killer?’
The plot begins with Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizing a weeklong corporate retreat for the team in a French Alps Chalet. The company has an app that allows anonymous people who listen to music that celebrities, family, social media are listening to at the same time. The partners are in a disagreement about what should happen to the company. Eva, one of the partners, wants to accept a buyout that will make them millions, but Topher, the other partner, wants to keep control of the company and instead sell public shares. The deciding shareholder is Liz, a quiet outlier who no longer works for the company, but has the controlling shares. In addition to the Snoop employees, are Erin and Danny, the caretakers of the Chalet. Erin is the host and keeps the chalet clean and the guests supplied with their needs, while Danny is the chef.
“I realized on in my writing that Erin could not be the only narrator. She was an outsider to the situation of a different perspective. She tries to find things out. But there is too much she did not know and too many discussions she was not privy too. I came to the realization I needed another narrator and Liz was the perfect counterpart to Erin. She is an outsider, but also an insider. The Snoop employees have an unhealthy and toxic relationship with a hierarchy. I made them part of a start-up company because these companies grow incredibly quickly. After a few years the CEO should be able to create a great working culture. Snoop is an example of a company that has not made the leap to be caring. Erin and Danny are completely different than the Snoop employees. I wanted to write two narratives that show the different aspects of colleague relationships. Danny and Erin have a wonderful relationship without any hierarchy and very much support each other. They have each other’s backs. Their professional relationship has developed to a real friendship.”
But the fun stops abruptly when those at the retreat start falling like flies. It seems there is a killer amongst them. First, one Snooper never made it back from skiing. Then, another member dies after being poisoned, and a third dies from asphyxiation. As the bodies mount up so does the tension. To make matters worse, a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world, with the loss of power, phone, food, etc. In a desperate attempt to get help, they divide into three groups; one to ski toward the police, the others to head to another chalet, and Erin and Liz to stay at the chalet, as both were too injured to travel. The dangers center around skiing with death, the escape, and the chase.
“I thought it would be fun to explore a sport I really enjoy. It is a sport I know something about so I could convey the realism. Snow can be genuinely dangerous. Something that looks so beautiful and picturesque can also transform an environment into something dangerous. Anything can turn on a dime. Avalanches do happen, temperatures do decrease suddenly, and off piste skiing involves unchartered territory. If someone does it without knowing the countryside, they can ski off a cliff or disappear in deep soft snow. Personally, I have never done it without a guide because someone can get stranded.”
Readers will take the thrilling ski ride with the characters all the way to the ending. This story was exciting and tense where people will be on the edge of their seats.