Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: And Then There Were None

The Backstory: Who hasn't enjoyed a well crafted mystery, especially one by the master herself, Agatha Christie. I have gotten to know the characters of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Tommy and Tuppence through the written word and of course through the PBS Mystery series. Unfortunately, it's been way too long since I've read a Christie novel so when I saw And Then There None at a local used book sale, I was beside myself with anticipation.

Ten visitors to a remote island off the Devon coast are about to face their worst nightmares. They each have something fuzzy in their past. Some try to forget while others try justify the event in their minds. Upon reaching their destination they discover that their host/hostess is not on the island. As dinner winds up on their first evening, a clear and mysterious voice seems to come out of nowhere and addresses each guest in turn with shocking news of their past crimes. Justice has come calling and the first death occurs that evening as they struggle to come to grips with what is happening.

Eventually, the group comes to the realization that the murderer is one of them and this is where the story get very tense with each person suspecting the other. One by one they meet the fate that was planned for each of them until...there were none.

How we find out who the murderer is may be a bit fanciful but then again he did declare he was a romantic. I said he, but could it have been a she?

My Take: Imagine you get an invitation to Kim Kardashian's wedding except the invitation is not from the bride but a dear long lost friend of yours who invites you to come as her guest. Never mind that it's been forever that you've seen this friend and actually you're just a bit hazy as to how you met or know her - it's Kim K's wedding and you are so there!

Ten people also say yes to similar invitations and find themselves lured to a private island where one by one, like a ticking time bomb, they fall prey to murder. Rretribution is being meted out and planned to unfold according to an old nursery rhyme. Frankly, how anyone could call this a nursery rhyme is beyond me. You can read it here.

This book has held up since it was first published in 1939. I first read it as a young teen in the 60s and it creeped me out. Guess what, it is still creepy and it is still a spectacular read. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. You'll discover what great mystery writing is all about.

Book Quotes: It's mad! - absolutely mad - we're all mad ..... I've no doubt in my mind that we've been invited here by a madman - probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic ..... Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn't make sense.

Author: Agatha Christie

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time with William Shakespeare the best selling author of any type.

Agatha Christie describes her childhood as being a happy one but during a particular period in her adult life things turned out to be as mysterious and full of drama as her books.

During the First World War, Christie worked as a hospital nurse a job and later at a hospital pharmacy which would become critical to her writing as most of the murders that occur in her books feature poison as the cause of death.

On Christmas Eve 1914, Agatha married Archibald Christie and eventually had one child, a daughter. In 1926 after an argument with her husband in which he revealed he had a mistress, he left their home. Later that same evening Agatha also left their home leaving behind a note for her secretary. Despite a massive manhunt she wasn't found for 11 days. In 1930 Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowen and by all accounts their marriaged was a happy one until Christie's death in 1976.

A very proper young English lady. Doesn't she look great?

Advice on Writing: The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.

A Side Dish of Controversy: I knew that there was some controversy with what I thought was the original title of this book, Ten Little Indians but there was an even more distasteful title that you can read about here. I think you will be more than a little shocked as I was.


  1. This IS an awesome book - I love it. I reread it a few years ago on a cruise ship - in the sun, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by people, the strains of the calypso band ringing all around me - and I was totally creeped out!

    I also knew Christie herself had some mysterious goings-on in her own life that we still haven't solved.

    As for the title, I don't think anybody should be offended or shocked - back then that word was not offensive.

    It would be like, if I wrote a book and called it 'Ten Little Violinists' and in the future, 'Violinists' became a derogatory, offensive word. It's not Christie's fault. I've always found it funny how many times the title changed because the word later became offensive.

    I think, 'And Then There Were None' is the perfect title for the mystery and one that can't possibly become offensive in the future. Right?

  2. OH, I love Agatha Christie Mysteries... Thank you for this great insight into her life... Bravo !!!...