And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

• Paperback: 318 p
• Publisher: HarperCollins, 2003 (originally published 1939)
• ISBN: 0007136838
• Genre: Mystery; Classic
• Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys the best in mystery writing.
 
Quick Review: I highly recommend this book. It’s a fast read, hard to put down, and is just a whole lot of fun. It’s also very well written. There’s a reason why Christie is known as the Queen of Mystery–she certainly knew her craft.
 

How I Got Here: I first read And Then There Were None when I was 13 or 14, when it was titled Ten Little Indians (it’s apparently undergone a few P.C. title changes). My mom is a die-hard Agatha Christie fan and has also been re-reading her favorites. I read this book during my participation in Dewey’s 24 hour Read-a-Thon.

The Book: Goodreads’ synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s world-famous mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.  Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.  The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again! and again

My Analysis and Critique:

A classic by the mistress of mystery, Agatha Christie. Christie begins her whodunnit with eight Brits enroute to Soldier Island which is privately owned by Mr. Owen, whom not one single guest can recall having ever met. Each guest seems to be trying to forget a secret and each seems eager to enjoy a free holiday at the island courtesy of the mystery host. The eight guests are classic flat characters: a stuffy retired judge, a mysterious hitman type, a very religious old maid, a retired Army general, a successful doctor, a fast-living playboy, a young attractive secretary, and a former police officer.

Upon arrival at the estate on Soldier Island, they meet Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, the butler and the maid of the house. They, too, have never met their employer Mr. Owen. After enjoying a lovely dinner, the guests are shocked to hear a loud voice speaking and disrupting their comfort. The Voice addresses and accuses each of them of individual crimes- all murders. It ends its pronouncement with “Prisoners at the bar, have you anything to say in your defence?” The voice then stops and then the denials and executions begin.

This is a fun book! As guests start dying off, inevitably each begins to turn on the other. All are guilty of murder in their past, in one way or another, and got away with it. So, a vigilante is delivering justice in a sick game based around a nursery rhyme called “Ten Little Soldiers”; each guest is murdered off in a way similar to a soldier in the rhyme. For example, one part of the rhyme is “Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.” So, the fifth murder is by hypodermic needle, and when his/her body is discovered, a bee is buzzing at the window. Very clever.

It amused me to watch as each guest went mad with suspicion, and each guest is equally horrified by the other when they learn of their murderous past. Yet, they are all guilty! I highly recommend this book. It’s a fast read, hard to put down, and is just a whole lot of fun. It’s also very well written. There’s a reason why Christie is known as the Queen of Mystery–she certainly knew her craft. Did she invent it? Are there any modern mysteries as well written as this? Really…I want to know. If there are, please let me know. Perhaps, I’ll add mystery as a new favorite genre if any modern novels are written half as well as this one.

Clue was definitely inspired by Christie!

Links:

  1. Goodreads reviews
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