For the first few months after giving birth, I was stuck with contact naps and very frequent breastfeeding. I certainly spent a fair amount of time on social media, particularly Reddit, but I also spent a lot of time in bed reading books. I’ve always loved crime and thriller fiction, as I enjoy figuring out whodunit and why, so I devoured many, many novels instead of catching up on sleep.
One of the novels that stood out in my memory is Ruth Ware’s One by One. I remember reading this late into the night, huddled under the blanket during our trip to visit family in Vancouver. The author’s style of writing was gripping: just the right amount of description to set the scene, with distinct dialogue for each character, and lots of plot movement. I already had an inkling who the perpetrator was, but I still read to the end to find out how and why.
A startup company called Snoop has arranged for a company retreat in a mountain chalet in France. It is a secluded place, with two employees, Erin and Danny, to care for the nine guests. The nine guests include the four founders (Rik, Elliot, Eva, and Topher), a previous secretary (Liz), and five other employees who do not have voting rights (Tiger, Miranda, Ani, Carl and Inigo). Voting rights are important, as there is a buyout offer for Snoop, but the founders do not see eye-to-eye on this matter. It’s Liz’s vote that will break the tie.
After a heated discussion, they head outside to ski. However, one of them doesn’t come back. While they’re searching for the person missing, an avalanche hits, cutting off phone and electricity. (Yes, this is a locked room mystery!) One by one, Snoop employees start dying. Who is the culprit, and why?
I didn’t get a lot of the skiing jargon, having skied only once in my life. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the action-packed ending nor understanding the characters’ fondness with skiing. (I myself remember the thrill of cruising down the mountain and feeling the wind on my face, never mind my dangerous mishaps.) This story also touches on issues such as the cutthroat culture in business, the role of social media and technology in our lives and, most importantly, sexual harassment. Whether or not you can believe the motives driving the characters’ actions, I suppose revenge is always a plausible response.