Yup, I’m reading another Ruth Ware book. I just can’t get enough of this writer, and she basically releases a book a year so there’s always something new for me to dive into. One by One takes place in the winter wonderland of the French Alps, so although I’m not getting much skiing in this year, it’s still fun to read about others doing it, especially when there’s multiple murders keeping things interesting. I read Ware’s books solely for pleasure; I know nobody’s dying to hear my opinions on them, and she certainly doesn’t need my help getting the word out, but her novels distract me from whatever terrible thing is taking up news headlines and I love a good mystery, especially more so when terrible people get what’s coming to them! There’s no shortage of dead bodies in this book, and MOST of the time it’s not a terrible disappointment when another one bites the dust.
Snoop is a popular music app that everyone has on their phone, and their young, hip and beautiful executive team are taking a team ski vacation in the French Alps together. There’s one woman who doesn’t quite fit in with them, Liz, and it turns out she’s a shareholder that may or may not be against their impending buyout, so Snoop’s founders are playing tug-of-war with Liz’s attentions. Aside from Liz’s first- person perspective, every alternating chapter is written from Erin’s perspective, one of the two chalet employees who’s got some secrets of her own. When an unexpected avalanche explodes down the mountain and cuts off power to the building, this triggers more than just panic, because every few hours a new Snoop team member is found dead. The suspect list is limited because the chalet is so isolated, but everyone seems to have their own motives, so figuring out who is the murderer isn’t as simple as it seems. The plot is a modern version of Agatha Christie’s famous story And Then There Were None, and there’s a wonderful mixture of natural and human-caused danger in this, Ware’s sixth novel.
I don’t like to overanalyze Ware’s books, because the more I think about them, the easier it is to pick apart the plot, or criticize her character-building. There is nothing particularly unique about One by One, yet, I wholly enjoyed reading it. Each of her books takes place in a vastly different setting, and the side of a mountain gets my pulse racing for more than a few different reasons. For example, I frequently find myself on the side of one, skiing downhill after my husband or plodding uphill behind him in hiking boots. Even worse, my husband was on a mountain doing avalanche training the same weekend I was reading this book; how is that for suspense? Of course not every reader will have the same ongoing exposure to mountains like I do, but situating a murder mystery in such a thrilling place is a clever tactic that adds a continued dose of unease.
Something else Ware does in each of her novels is write from a female perspective. I’m struggling to think of one book that is written in the voice of a man, and I don’t think she has one. The psychological thriller genre seems overrun by female voices these days; writers and characters alike. I wonder if there are any male readers out there that adore Ruth Ware like her devoted female fan base? I’m not sure what makes this new take on the thriller genre popular for women, but ever since Gone Girl, there seems to be no shortage of these female-centric suspense novels.
Pacing the reader, pacing the plot, and building suspense is what Ware is best at. The slow burn of suspicion is what I truly love about her writing; I don’t even realize time is passing when I’m reading her books because I am so absorbed in the story, she is the master of ‘one more page’. The atmosphere of this icy prison is skillfully constructed to trap its characters along with us readers, and no one can rest until the answers are finally revealed. These books may not be the thought-provoking puzzle that we praise in literary circles, but I love them anyway, and I know I’m in good company when I declare my love for another Ruth Ware novel.