This is without a doubt one of the best crime fiction books I have ever read. And, dare I say it, one of the most enjoyable. From the opening to closing chapter I could not stop reading. I love short chapters, they end so abruptly and usually on a cliffhanger that you really have no choice but to continue reading. Some authors aren't that good with the short chapters, but Chris Carter isn't one of them. He is a fantastic writer and tells one hell of a story.
I read The Hunter a few days ago which is a short story, but it was basically a glorified advert for his books. I didn't need any advert as Carter's books have been on my radar for a few years, I just never got round to reading them. The plot for One By One however convinced me that I needed to start his books ASAP and I started with this book. I was a bit wary at first having not read the previous books but, unlike other books which are part of a series, Carter only mentions a previous book once - he doesn't use whole chapters to tell the reader everything that has happened to the character up till now - and doesn't give away that much of the plot meaning previous books can be read without them being spoilt for the reader here first.
I did love the idea for the book. Hunter is contacted personally and asked to log on to a website where the caller asks Hunter which method he wants the person on the screen to die by. More deaths occur only this time on a website that the people of California can access and vote for their preferred kill method. In the age of reality TV and being able to vote for all kinds of things this was certainly an enjoyable read. A website like this being posted on Twitter and Facebook today would certainly attract thousands of hits and would people vote? I certainly didn't work out who the killer was and I very much enjoyed the ending because it was a surprise. So often in crime fiction the killer is obvious, or is known to the reader early on in the book but books like these are more enjoyable when you don't see twists coming.
Unfortunately however I have just read a review elsewhere which compares this book to the film 'Untraceable'. I haven't watched that film but I have just read about it online and read pretty much the whole plot. It is incredibly similar to the plot here, perhaps too similar for the author to not be aware of it? That said it is also similar to the Saw films and the killer in this book was very much a Jigsaw type character. In fact the killer of this book is probably one of my favourite killers in a crime fiction book.
Overall I reccommend that you read this book. Previous books do not need to have been read in advance although I feel certain parts of the book would invoke more of a reaction from the reader had they established a connection with the characters by knowing more about them. It certainly doesn't take away any enjoyment from the book however if it is your first Carter book.