One By One by Ruth Ware:A review
Ruth Ware's homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None is set in a remote chalet in the French Alps instead of on a mysterious island, but the air of mystery and dread that slowly descends on the place is much the same. In this case, the chalet is cut off from civilization by an avalanche that knocks out the electricity and phone service and the wi-fi connection to the outside world. Thus a weekend that was meant to be an off-site retreat for a tech company in order to promote mindfulness and collaboration becomes a struggle for survival, made more urgent when people start dying. It is soon evident that the deaths are not natural or accidents and there is a killer among the group. Who will be left alive when the weekend ends or when rescuers manage to make it to the chalet?
The chalet is staffed by a chef and a concierge who are good friends. They and the group of co-workers from the tech company are the only people on site. It is soon evident that there are strains in the relationships of the co-workers, mostly related to the possibility of a buyout of the company. Some who own stock in the company stand to make a great deal of money. Or not. The uncertainty is enough to put people on edge.
Ware builds her story slowly and carefully. She tells it primarily through two characters - the concierge and a former employee and current stockholder of the company who has been invited along for the weekend. We soon suspect that things are not entirely as they seem with either of these characters.
It was a bit difficult at times to keep up with the plethora of characters and their interactions. We get to know the chalet employees, Danny the chef and Erin the concierge/manager really well. The only one of the guests that we really get to know well is Liz, the former employee/current stockholder who is the second point of view through which the author tells the story. The other guests become known to us mostly through their relationships with Liz.
As the dead bodies begin to pile up, it becomes a race to figure out whodunit and for survivors to decide whom they can trust - if they can trust anyone. It's not clear that the outside world knows their situation and that any help is coming for them and they have no way of communicating. The chills are not just due to the weather.
This was my first experience reading Ruth Ware and it was a quick and entertaining introduction. It was an intriguing idea for a book. The plot development was a strong point; the character development less so. It seemed pretty evident from fairly early on who the killer was, even though the motive and means were not necessarily clear until later. So, I was not really surprised when all was revealed. Still, it was a diverting read and I would definitely pick up another Ruth Ware book.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars