Reviews: ANXIOUS PEOPLE & ONE BY ONE

 

 

One of the things I’ve been very grateful for during this pandemic is that I’ve had no shortage of excellent review books to read.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two more of those fantastic reads, both from two of my favorite authors.  This is my fourth book from each of them and they have yet to let me down.

 

Reviews:  ANXIOUS PEOPLE & ONE BY ONEAnxious People Goodreads

Author: Fredrik Backman

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher:  Atria Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

What I always enjoy about Fredrik Backman’s novels is that they are so unique.  Filled with quirky characters and thought-provoking life lessons presented in the most original and fresh ways, I always know I’m in for a treat when I pick up one of his books.  Backman’s latest novel, Anxious People, is no exception

I knew Anxious People was going to be a quirky delightful read from the opening paragraphs. “This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.” I was chuckling to myself from the moment I read that line and couldn’t wait to see what kind of an adventure he was taking me on.  And let me tell you, it’s a wild ride.  On its surface, this is a story about a bank robbery that goes wrong which collides with an apartment viewing gone wrong, which ultimately becomes an almost absurdly comical hostage situation, which somehow ends with the bank robber/hostage taker disappearing right out from under the noses of the police officers assigned to the case.  The bulk of the story focuses on the police attempting to get statements from the hostages, which is presented alongside the story of the bank robber, including what led them to decide to rob a bank all the way up to the moment the robber disappears.

One of Backman’s greatest gifts as a writer is his ability to create well-drawn, complex, multi-layered characters.  Even though every witness the police interrogates starts out as just someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, by the end, each of them has a pretty fleshed-out story of their own within the overall story.  We get a glimpse of the inner demons each of them is battling and it just makes them all feel so real.  I also love the dynamic we are given with the two police officers assigned to the case. They are actually father and son, and there’s a lot going on there between the two of them.

Backman also has a gift for writing stories that engage all my emotions.  With Anxious People, I laughed my way through the police interrogations, especially when it seemed that the witnesses either were, in fact, idiots, or they were being deliberately difficult and evasive.  It truly must have been the most maddening investigation those poor police officers had ever experienced!  But then as the story developed and I got to know the various characters better and learned about their lives and struggles, including the bank robber, I found myself growing more and more attached to each of them and invested in their stories, to the point that I was in tears by the time I reached the end, which actually surprised me with how incredibly moving it was.

If you’re already a fan of Backman’s, I think you’ll love Anxious People. And if you’ve never tried his books before but enjoy stories that are equally funny and moving, and are filled with quirky well-drawn characters, Anxious People should be on your reading list.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  ANXIOUS PEOPLE & ONE BY ONEOne by One Goodreads

Author: Ruth Ware

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher:  Gallery/Scout Press

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Ruth Ware is one of my go-to authors when I’m in the mood for a suspenseful thriller and she did not disappoint with her latest novel, One By One.  The story is set in France in a rustic mountain ski chalet and follows a group of employees who are there for a company retreat.  Tragedy strikes when weather conditions unexpectedly deteriorate while this group is out skiing and one of their company’s founders goes missing.  Conditions continue to deteriorate and an avalanche hits, burying the ski chalet, turning what was a picture perfect setting into a potentially deadly one, especially when one by one, they start turning up dead.  It’s the ultimate locked-room mystery as the killer has to be one of them since they’re trapped in the chalet and cut off from the rest of the world.

I do have to admit that One By One started off a little slow for me in spite of the promise of an exciting suspenseful read. I got a little bogged down as the employees arrived at the chalet and we get an in-depth rundown of their company, which is called Snoop, and is the latest and greatest in music-based social media apps.  It’s designed to allow members to “spy” on what music other members are listening to. The premise is that if Beyonce, for example, is on Snoop, you can snoop what she’s listening to and listen to the same thing at the same time.  That’s the basic description but the book goes into a lot more detail that I felt wasn’t really necessary.  Once that was out of the way, thankfully the story picks up very quickly.

The dynamics between the group of employees, and even one former employee who was invited fascinated me.  One of the reasons they were having this retreat was to discuss an offer of a buyout they had received. It’s a buyout that could make them all very rich, but it becomes clear immediately that there are factions within the group. Some want the buyout, while others are adamantly against it.  I was busy watching these characters as the story progressed, trying to figure out who had the most motive to start offing their colleagues and trying to figure out what the motivation was anyway.  Was it the money? Or was it something more personal since, after all, there’s a former employee with them who may have an ax to grind?

Like an avalanche itself, One By One builds momentum quickly and becomes filled with tension and suspense as the story shifts into a full-on survival story.  Ware had me on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure out who the killer might be. Several times I thought I had it figured out, only to have my suspect end up being the next one to die.  And then of course, there’s the missing company founder. Is she dead?  If so, was it really an accident or is it somehow tied to the murders?

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m going to stop now, but if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers, locked-door mysteries, and survival stories, give Ruth Ware’s One By One a try.  4 STARS

 

26 replies
  1. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Ohhhh Anxious People sounds absolutely brilliant Suzanne! I love a quirky read with humour and an author not afraid to have fun with th narrative. This one is definitely being added to my cart for my next book shop. Brilliant review and so glad you enjoyed them both! ♥️
    Kelly recently posted…Book Tour & Giveaway!

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  2. lisa thomson
    lisa thomson says:

    I’ve added the first book to my TBR. It sounds really funny and well, a myriad of emotions to expect. I haven’t read any of his books so this will be a first. The second book sounds pretty good, too. I think this would be a nice read for winter when I’m ready for a thriller. Thanks, Suzanne. I always enjoy your reviews!
    lisa thomson recently posted…10 Bizarre Things Covid Made Me Do

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  3. verushka
    verushka says:

    I just found out about Anxious People and OMG, you weren’t kidding about quirky — what a wonderfully unique premise! And humorous story boot 😁😁

    Reply

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