Saturday, February 12, 2011

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None. Agatha Christie. 1939/2000. Buccaneer Books. 192 pages.

In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interesting eye through the political news in the Times. He laid the paper down and glanced out of the window. They were running now through Somerset. He glanced at his watch--another two hours to go.

Ten men and women arrive on Indian island never suspecting the dangers and thrills that are to come. None will leave the island alive. Mr. Justice Wargrave, Vera Claythorne, Captain Philip Lombard, Emily Brent, General MacArthur, Dr. Armstrong, Anthony Marston, Mr. Blore, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. It seems each has been lured to the island without really knowing their host or hostess. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers being engaged as servants. Miss Vera Claythorne being engaged as a temporary secretary. The others all received letters of invitation. It soon becomes clear that not everything is as it appears.

There are some not-so-hidden clues embodied within a nursery rhyme poem, "Ten Little Indians" (found on pages 21-22 of my edition; you can get an idea of it from this site, though it's not an easy read, it seems it's a combination of two poems, one from 1868 and the other from 1869).  There are also ten little figurines--as each guest dies, a figurine from the table vanishes as well.

Readers get a chance to learn a little about each character. Especially the ones that survive the first few deadly days. None of the characters are particularly likable--none so delightful that you'd want to know them--especially not under these circumstances.

I would say this Christie novel comes the closest to inspiring fear and horror in its readers. There isn't anything particularly cozy or delightful or charming about this one. There are no clever detectives--arrogant or not--to counterbalance the violence. Almost everything that I love about Christie's mysteries seems to be missing in this one. But even though I don't especially "like" this one, I can't deny that it was cleverly written.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Shirley said...

Becky, you did a clever job of portraying this novel! Though "And Then There Were None" has no redeeming sleuth, it is masterfully executed. I've read it a couple times and now want to reread it. Thanks for another great review. Too bad you did not enjoy it as you have others of Agatha Christie's but I can understand that. It is not one of my favourites either.

samantha.1020 said...

I'm the opposite as this is one of my favorite Christie novels. This one kept me guessing until the end and helped to make me an instant fan of this author. I now have a personal goal of reading everything that she has written. Great review!

Becky said...

It definitely kept me guessing. I can recognize it as being well written, as being clever. Still I'm not sure I'd consider any of the characters as being friend-worthy. My time spent with this book was more intense--more anxious--than comfortable. Some of her other books 'charmed' me more than this one. Perhaps because I've read so many in so short a time--just six or seven weeks--my reaction is a bit different than it might have been otherwise. Still, I can't help but agree that reading everything she has written is a great goal to have!!!

Marce said...

Very interesting, this is my only read by Christie, definitely want to try another now. I'm glad you read it now Becky.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This one is actually my favorite Christie. There's something wonderful about the creepy fact that there's no formula to follow and we don't know what to expect.