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One by One is a “Safe” But Thrilling Way to Spend Time With a Murderer

one by one cover art

One by One

It’s human nature to seek out thrills.

This is likely a leftover from the way our brains are hard-wired to expect them from when we lived on the Savannah and were often hunted for food by saber tooth tigers.

We now (mostly) live in safe little bubbles, but our brains remember what it is to feel those adrenaline spikes of danger.

So we go looking for them.

We do this by riding roller coasters, watching scary movies, jumping out of planes… and reading thrillers.

You might argue that reading a thriller doesn’t provide the same rush as jumping out of a plane.

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If you have ever gotten into a murder mystery when it’s dark at night, you are alone at home, and you think you hear something… it’s plenty adrenaline-inducing. 

In One by One by best-selling author Ruth Ware, you get the chance to experience those goosebumps.

Set in the French Alps at a rustic ski chalet, a group of employees and shareholders from billion-dollar tech company Snoop meet to discuss what to do about a buy-out offer.

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They are hosted by chef Danny and housekeeper Erin, who has her own complicated past and secrets from the group.

All is a typical corporate ski retreat until Eva, one of the founders of Snoop, dies mysteriously and they are cut off from the world by an avalanche. This kicks off a round of “who done it” type mystery that is part suspense and part entertainment. 

One of the things Ruth Ware is so good at is ramping up the suspense in a way that sneaks up on you.

Yes, it feels like a murder mystery from the beginning, but it doesn’t get you in the gut until closer to the end.

You feel like you are riding the wave, riding the wave, and then suddenly you are submerged underwater and your hearts jumping as you try to figure out what happens next.

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It very much feels like an Agatha Christie novel written for modern times, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s also what Ruth Wares intended, as she says she is heavily influenced by Christie. Ruth in her own right really is a master of mystery. 

There is only so much I can say about the book without completely spoiling it, but let’s just say that if you are a fan of well-written suspense set in beautiful vistas of the Alps, you will really enjoy this book.

Is it life-changing? No, but I don’t think every book needs to be.

A book that will grip you hard and long enough to let your mind disengage from the world for a little while is good enough for me, and this book delivers that experience expertly.