Title: One by One
Author: Chris Carter
Publication date: 15 August 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 512 pages
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository
In a nutshell
The most terrifying TV show ever is about to begin…
It’s an ordinary day on the job for Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division, when out of the blue comes a phone call. A voice instructs him to log on to a certain URL. Intrigued, Hunter does so, only to find live footage of a hostage bound to a chair in a large tank. The caller then presents him with a grim choice: the hostage will either be drowned or burned alive, and Hunter must choose. Hunter votes for neither, but the caller insists: either Hunter decides or he will. Either way, the hostage will die. Hunter refuses to be drawn, so the caller suggests ‘burned alive’. Desperate, Robert Hunter requests ‘drowned’ as the less brutal option. And before his eyes the tank begins to fill…
So begins Detective Hunter’s most horrifying case yet. Along with his partner Garcia they are forced to watch as victim after victim is plucked, seemingly at random, and placed before a webcam, their final moments broadcast live on the internet, the viewing public offered the chance to vote on the method of death. You watch, you vote, they die.
This, my dear friends, is how you write an exceptional, cold-blooded thriller readers won’t be able to put down. I’ve only read one of Carter’s previous books so far but it instantly became one of my favourite books this year and put Chris Carter right on top of my ‘favourite crime writers’ list. But even though I knew One by One would be just as brilliant as The Night Stalker (and I’m sure most of his previous books) was, I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to top that level and write something even more intense, more twisted. Well, he did. One by One is no doubt one of the scariest books I’ve ever read and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.
I suppose one of the things that makes it so terrifying is that Hunter’s team is dealing with an incredibly smart killer this time. You know, Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw smart. Someone who is always one step ahead of you and knows how you would react to his traps, someone who is (nearly) impossible to outwit and someone who isn’t likely to make mistakes. So how do you catch such a killer? How do you catch someone who’s been playing a cat and mouse game with you from the very beginning and who is always ready for your next move? Oh, it’s a clever idea.