The locked room trope done right: One By One by Ruth Ware #bookreview #NetGalley #20booksofsummer20

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?
When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?


Hi and welcome to my review of One By One! Who the hell reads about skiing, frostbite and a chalet in the Alps whilst in the throes of the first heatwave of the year? This gal! And kudos to Ruth Ware for making me oblivious to the heat for a few hours!

The creators of the Snoop app, their employees and one ex-employee have convened in a chalet in the Alps that can only be reached by a funicular. What could possibly go wrong? Well for starters, they have an important decision to make and they’re not quite seeing eye to eye. There’s also history between some of members of this party, and more than a few have something to hide. Then one of them disappears during a ski trip, and there’s an avalanche effectively snowing them in.

One by One alternates between two points of view: Erin’s, the hostess of the chalet, and Liz’s, one of the guests. The shortish chapters and the change in POV keep the story going at a swift pace, as do the many questions that are raised throughout, and the hint of secrets to be revealed.

I have read every single one of Ruth Ware’s novels, and I especially adore The Death of Mrs Westaway and last year’s The Turn of the Key. The reason why I ranked those just a bit higher than her previous ones is the Gothic vibe they both have. It’s this modern-day Gothic feel Ruth Ware excels at and it’s precisely that vibe that I missed in One by One.

One by One is taken in another direction, and especially the first two thirds of the story read like a modern-day Agatha Christie. It reminded me of And Then There Were None (incidentally one of my favourite Christies) but with corporate intrigue and lots more snow. And for those first two thirds or so, One by One stays on the beaten track. Excellently written of course, but still, part of me was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for One by One to sneak off-piste. I would love to tell you a lot more, but I can’t, because spoilers.

Atmospheric, tense and claustrophobic, One by One is a great example of the locked room trope done right. I enjoyed trying to solve the puzzle, and even though my money was on the right person, certain reveals still came as a bit of a shock. Recommended to any and all mystery fans.

One by One is out on 12 November 2020, you can pre-order here or check out Waterstones’ gorgeous special edition here.

Huge thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.

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