Book Review: One by One – Chris Carter

Chris Carter - One By One
Chris Carter – One By One

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Pages: 500
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Printer: CPI Group
ISBN: 978-0-85720-306-9
Price: £12.99

It’s been a bloody long time since I’ve fired off one of these. In fact, close on a decade now, give or take. I used to review under the names TheNovelReviewer and LordOfTheReads. I miss it. I miss writing books and stories more but I wanted to come back to familiar ground – what with all the bloody reading…

At A Glance

A colleague lent me this book and assured me there would be plenty of gore. Promised that the pace would be quick and I would finish it pretty quickly. In truth, she was spot on. It is very gory and once I started committing to reading it, I did consume it rapidly. It follows Detective Robert Hunter and Garcia from LAPD’s Homicide Special Section trying to solve the live broadcasted murders or apparently random victims. They are done so in grotesque and very violent ways, which only spurs the characters on to try and dig around for clues – naturally few and far between. The kicker is that the killer is deliberately communicating and sending links directly to Detective Hunter’s desk, so there’s no option but to solve it.

Plot

The plot has a very neat structure. Spaced evenly throughout the book, four murders are broadcasted live to the LAPD office, designed to elicit a reaction from the detectives and the general public. In each video, a voting system input in place, so that anyone with access to the video online can vote for how the victim will be killed. Always a choice between one or the other.

As the killings grow progressively worse, the detectives come across the dead bodies a few days later with little to no clues or forensics. It’s only with the eventual collaboration of a very young tech guru who nabs a big lead about halfway through. It’s here that the pace picks up again.

By the last act, the detectives are beginning to piece together the basics of a profile and motive, when the killer themselves approaches Hunter directly following a fourth live killing. The plot ends satisfyingly, wrapping up the case without too terrible an ending – though it leaves plenty open for guessing as to how it might wrap up.

It’s been a bloody long time since I’ve fired off one of these. In fact, close on a decade now, give or take. I used to review under the names TheNovelReviewer and LordOfTheReads. I miss it. I miss writing books and stories more but I wanted to come back to familiar ground – what with all the bloody reading…

At A Glance

A colleague lent me this book and assured me there would be plenty of gore. Promised that the pace would be quick and I would finish it pretty quickly. In truth, she was spot on. It is very gory and once I started committing to reading it, I did consume it rapidly. It follows Detective Robert Hunter and Garcia from LAPD’s Homicide Special Section trying to solve the live broadcasted murders or apparently random victims. They are done so in grotesque and very violent ways, which only spurs the characters on to try and dig around for clues – naturally few and far between. The kicker is that the killer is deliberately communicating and sending links directly to Detective Hunter’s desk, so there’s no option but to solve it.

Plot

The plot has a very neat structure. Spaced evenly throughout the book, four murders are broadcasted live to the LAPD office, designed to elicit a reaction from the detectives and the general public. In each video, a voting system input in place, so that anyone with access to the video online can vote for how the victim will be killed. Always a choice between one or the other.

As the killings grow progressively worse, the detectives come across the dead bodies a few days later with little to no clues or forensics. It’s only with the eventual collaboration of a very young tech guru who nabs a big lead about halfway through. It’s here that the pace picks up again.

By the last act, the detectives are embroiled in a fourth a more grizzly murder broadcasted live, followed by the killer personally requesting Hunter’s presence for a big finale. The story culminates in a standoff and ends fairly satisfyingly, with the potential for a few shocks.

Writing

In essence, it’s short and sweet. Think James Patterson but with less descriptive flair. Very bare bones. As such, it makes for a very quick read but it’s a very simple one at that. Nothing about the writing stimulates or teaches, only it serves as a carriage to take you along on an adventure. This it does very well.

The use of staccato in dramatic scenes and the boiler-plate short chapters for quick-paced thrillers are also implemented. So no surprises and what you would expect from a bookshop crime-fic.

Dialogue at times induces a cringe or two from the overuse of cliche or phrasing you simply wouldn’t hear in the real world. Then again, this is a perspective from someone British reading dialogue spoken by those living in California, USA. I could be off the mark but I found some of the conversations and outbursts a bit offbeat from the rest of the book.

Characters

Again, like the dialogue, the characters are almost outrageously cliche. With the tech guru Michelle, think budget grade Abbey from NCIS. But with a more outlandish back story that is extremely difficult to swallow.

Garcia, like a previous book I’ve read of Carter’s, is still the most enjoyable character for me. The victims are also portrayed very well and build genuine empathy between the reader and character to create that sense of sorrow and helpless later on.

As for the main guy Hunter, he’s very much the default hero white guy with a few troubles in his past, but also conveniently amazing at everything to get by unscathed. He’s still a little interesting but on a very quick read through for the crux of the story, it’s easy to forget about it.

The villain is also quite typical and without any agency or voice until much later in the book. Once this is introduced, the story becomes far more interesting and where I powered through 260 pages in one evening. A definite highlight is the second act of this novel.

Conclusion – 5/10

To wrap up, I have to say as a light bit of reading before bed, and if you’re a big fan of crime fiction, it’s definitely worth getting from the library or borrowing from a friend. It is absolutely not worth the retail price. It’s extremely average. Had the characters been far more unique and the dialogue more interesting/believable, it would absolutely be a purchase. Instead, it’s all very formulaic and even more so than your usual Patterson’s and Child’s.

I enjoy reading Chris Carter books, but only to consume them to see a conclusion to the story. So, by that end, I skim most of the sentences without really savouring it. And that’s a shame but that’s what Robert Crais is for!

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