ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware

Confession time – murder mysteries set in winter are at the top of my list of favorite genres – I guess I find reading with the seasons to add to the thrill of the genre. Add an isolated ski resort in the French Alps, and a large group of potential murderers and I will happily skip responsibilities and obligations to curl up with the pups and escape to a mysterious wintery setting for a few hours.

One by One’s storyline checked all the boxes for me to purchase and put aside other books to get into the winter mindset here in Maine. This is my first Ruth Ware book, and I thought it was a fun read right to the end.

The story begins with a BBC News website update:

4 Britons Dead in Ski Resort Tragedy.

The Exclusive French ski resort of St. Antoine was rocked by news of a second tragedy this week, only days after an avalanche killed six and left much of the region without power for days.


The introduction of eight coworkers meeting for a company retreat – and the narration of the weather and the seclusion of the resort – sets the severe scene of what is to come. Not only did the characters have to survive the aftermath of the avalanche – loss of heat and electricity, but a scarcity of food, and the unknown of what happened to the nearby village and subsequent emergency services kept my senses occupied throughout the book.

“The snow is still falling – fat white flakes drifting lazily down to lie softly over the peaks and pistes and valleys of St. Antoine. Three meters have fallen in the last couple of weeks, and there’s more forecast. A snowpocalypse, Danny called it. Snowmaggedon. Lifts have been closed, and then reopened, and then closed again.”

“We are quite high in the mountains now. The minibus makes its way up through little Alpine villages that would look like picture postcards, except the sky is a threatening slate color, not blue.”

The unique chapter layout was a fun change of pace for me.  Each chapter highlights a different character’s point of view of what occurs throughout the long weekend of terror at the French Alps’ exclusive ski chalet.  Their relationships begin to unfold, unravel, and reveal themselves as they  independently deal with the avalanche and the one-by-one disappearances of the group members. 

“I feel the atmosphere close around me like a fist. It is an atmosphere I haven’t felt for nearly three years. Money. Privilege. Ambition.”

The writing is direct, cool, and each character is clearly defined. The tension builds quickly as each character’s thoughts are unveiled throughout the chapters – leading the reader down several different (snowy) trails. I loved the setting, atmosphere, and enjoyed discovering each of the believable characters. If you, like me, enjoy a wintery, atmospheric murder mystery, put this one on your winter-reading list!

Scout Press, New York (2020). Paperback, 372 pages. Personal copy from Maine Coast Bookstore, Damariscotta, ME.