I love a good mystery, and one of my favorite classics is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, in which a group of people, each with their own dark secrets, are trapped on an island, dying one by one.
It is easy to see how that book was likely an inspiration for this novel.
As One Way starts, Frank Kittridge is in prison for killing his son’s drug dealer. He has no contact with his now ex-wife and son, and is just existing. Then a man from the company that runs the prison presents him with a way out. But not on Earth. They are recruiting prisoners to go to Mars to build the base for the scientists and astronauts that would follow. Thinking that this would give his son something to be proud of, Frank agrees.
The training is tough, with his only real contact being other convicts being trained, and a guard who is a sadist. And before he really feels they are ready for it, Frank and the others, along with the sadist, are loaded into the rocket as frozen cargo and sent to Mars.
Of course, everything starts going wrong. First, part of the early loads sent to Mars went off-course slighting, and are at the absolute limit of what they can reach, and without those loads, they are dead. Retrieving the first one also results in the death of one of the team due to a fault in her spacesuit. She is the first death, but not the last. The convicts are working hard, and dying one by one until the last few realize that it isn’t just accident, but they are being murdered. But on a team of all murderers, who do you suspect.
I did have a couple of little issues with the plotting. No one realizes who the killer is or why until the very end, which is a little silly. No one is that trusting. I also don’t know how the company thought that they could cover everything up. Really? And why was there addictive drugs on the ship? One character dies of an overdose, and another develops and addiction, which leaves me wondering how it was that dangerous drugs were sent.
And I get the feeling that the author didn’t really know what to do with his female characters. There are two among the convicts, and they both die almost immediately on arrival on Mars, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of them rather than dealing with the complications that being female in an isolated, mostly male, group. I wish he could have done more with them.
Still, while I had figured out whodunnit and why well before the still living characters did, the book was a good read, and I look forward to the second book in the series.