A murder mystery with sci-fi dressing, One Way is set in a not too far distant future in which humanity is about to colonise Mars. Getting there is going to be extremely costly though, and so the billion-dollar corporation responsible for the project has decided to cut corners. One of the ways in which costs can be kept down is by sending humans to do the initial habitat building required and, due to the dangerous nature of the work, disposable humans at that. Which is how eight convicts find themselves picked for the job.
Our protagonist, Frank, is one such convict. A former construction worker who shot his son’s drug dealer in the face, Frank has skills that will be much in need for the project, as do his other convict crew mates. The former weed grower will be great for farming, the woman who killed 26 people in a rigged truck is their driver, the angel of death is to be their doctor, and so on. Overseeing their training, and enjoying his power over them a little too much is Brack, who’ll also be going with them to Mars.
Put through a strenuous training regime in which tentative alliances are formed, things are looking like they should go fairly smoothly once they reach Mars. Except that once they reach the red planet, a series of ‘accidents’ starts killing off members of the crew, coincidentally just after they’ve finished the tasks to which their skills were suited. And as the crew dwindles, Frank realises that one of their number is slowly murdering them.
While this was a decent enough read, I must admit that the mystery wasn’t all that much of a mystery to me. It was astoundingly obvious to me exactly what was going on from the second death on, and the reveal of the culprit – whilst apparently astonishing to what remained of Frank and his crew – was also telegraphed from pretty much the moment the story started, along with his motives. This was actually by far and away the least interesting element of the book to me, and I far preferred the depiction of life on an inhospitable planet and the struggle to survive amidst scarce resources, which was done pretty well and made the science accessible even to a non-scientific brain like mine.
All in all, this turned out to be any easy way to while away a Saturday afternoon where there was too much football on TV, but I wouldn’t go rushing out to hunt it down.