Lead Review

  • Book: One by One
  • Location: French Alps
  • Author: Ruth Ware

Review Author: Tina Hartas



Snoop is a star of the tech world. It is an app that lets you snoop on what music famous (and less famous) people are listening to in real time. It is only a few years old, but has been heralded as a great success.

A takeover offer has been made, and the founders and shareholders of Snoop gather in an Alpine skiing retreat to discuss the pros and cons. A decision has to be made. There are ten of them and they are a pretty mixed (and entitled) bunch – business persons, techies and accountants. Plus a young woman a little out of her depth… she was their original secretary and was given a small shareholding in exchange for a £10,000 investment when the company was in danger of going bust in its early days. They, together with the cook and maid, give us twelve people in the chalet.

The first morning they decide to go skiing before the weather sets in – as it is forecast to do later in the day. One of them, a very competent skier and one of the founders and arch proponent of the takeover, takes a black run even though it is closed. That person never makes it down or back to the chalet. The phone signal indicates location, and it is assumed the skier fell off the run into a very deep ravine – in which case, alive or dead – that person would be unrecoverable. The next person to die is a techie, found slumped over a coffee in their room… An avalanche hits the chalet, and the remaining inhabitants are left without power or phone signal quite possibly, it is now assumed, in the company of a murderer. Because even if the first death wasn’t suspicious, then the next certainly was. Now, including the staff, there are just ten of them in total. Until another disappears… and another…. The fear is closing in; three (including co-founder Topher) attempt to ski down to the valley (despite the havoc wrought by the avalanche), three decide to try and snowshoe over to a close by (well, three hours away…) chalet to see if they can raise the alarm, and two of them, both with leg injuries, stay in the chalet to await rescue.

The story moves to a very scary and dramatic denouement. The conclusion (at least for me) was unexpected.

One by One is a really good thriller. Quite definitely a page turner – one which, very surprisingly, gave me a nightmare as I attempted to process the story in my sleep… that rarely happens. It is well and engagingly written. You have to suspend belief more than a little – but that is often the sign of a good one.

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