It sounds idyllic–a lovely ski chalet with stunning views of the French Alps, a highly rated chef preparing all the meals, a full-service housekeeper, heated swimming pool, and a week away from the London office. Sure, it’s a corporate retreat for the eight employees of Snoop and that means tedious brainstorming sessions and a rather bitter debate about the future of the company but then there’s bonding on the ski slopes and sitting in front of a cozy fire after a delicious dinner.
Snoop, a trendy start up that anonymously connects someone for brief periods of time to their favorite celebrities by being able to tune into what music they’re listening to at the time, is all about cool. So really what’s there not to like even after an avalanche closes off any chance of leaving the chalet until the roads are cleared.
After all, there’s the wine, food, and luxurious lodging, even if its starting to get a little cold since the electricity has been cut off. But there’s worse to come, this being a Ruth Ware novel after all. One by One Gallery/Scout Press 2020; $16.14 Amazon price), combines the classic locked door mysteries made famous by Agatha Christie and the latest in social media and our willingness to turn over large amounts of information to our apps and how we use them to snoop on others, a subject Ware finds fascinating and what led to her creation of Snoop and the people who work there.
“All those people snooping their neighbor’s houses via property websites, or exploring strange neighborhoods with Google Earth, or using social media to stalk exes,” says Ware, author of bestsellers such as The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game. “An app that lets you snoop on the listening habits of its users, both random stranger and celebrities—the quid pro quo being that in order to snoop on others, you must make your own listening public too. Snoop promises “voyeurism for your ears” which seemed to tick all the boxes.”
But Snoop isn’t harmless voyeurism. It leads to death.
The first to go missing is Eva who may be laying under a ton of huge boulders dislodged by the force of the sweeping snow. But even before the avalanche, there was a growing divisiveness, It seems each Snooper (as the Snoop workers call themselves) has a secret or two they don’t want revealed and close proximity is making it difficult keep them hidden. Adding to the tension, the missing Eva, one of the partners, was in favor of selling Snoop and scooping up her part of the millions being offered. Topher, the other partner, wants to keep control and take the company public. The stock divisions owned by the remaining Snoopers are equally divided between those favoring either Eva or Topher. So the focus then is on Liz, a quiet woman who sees herself as weak and demeans herself for letting others take advantage of her. During the early days of the start-up she was paid in shares instead of cash and now has the controlling vote.
As the deaths pile up, we find out more about the people who work for Snoop through the voices of both Erin, the housekeeper, and Liz.
“Crime and psychology are inseparable really,” says Ware, explaining the motivations behind her characters’ actions. “Readers have to understand why someone would do something as extreme as killing another person, something that’s totally foreign to most of us, no matter what the stakes. For the novel to work, we readers have to be persuaded that that’s plausible, and in their character, without that aspect sticking out like a sore thumb from page one.”
For more about Ruth Ware and future virtual author vents, visit www.ruthware.com