HARDCOVER; 183 P. BUCCANEER BOOKS, 2000/1939 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
First, there were ten; a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal; and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
Agatha Christie is often referred as the Queen of Crime, and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Back in upper secondary, I perused a lot of her novels and fell in love with the manner that she could spin a story and think of the most unexpected things. I went through all the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books, as well as few others, but for some reason never picked up her most famous novel, And Then There Were None.
As the blurb in the beginning says, And Then There Were None introduces ten characters who are all invited to the mysterious Indian Island in Devon. The characters are completely unaware of each other until they all meet on the shore, waiting to be taken to the island. Once on the island, they hear that their hosts have not yet arrived and that they will appear later. That evening, a record is played that accuses each one of the guests of a past crime and at the end of the evening, one falls down – dead.
The mystery and suspense of And Then There Were None is built around an old nursery rhyme called Ten Little Indians. However, the original title of the book and the nursery rhyme contained a rather controversial n-word, which is why the U.S. publishers decided to change the title to the last line of the rhyme. In fact, in today’s editions the word is replaced with either Indian or soldier, depending on the edition. Thus the name of the island, the little figurines and other instances have all been changed. Despite the controversy, the book is a masterful work. It provides an interesting study of the characters and how they deal with the situation. The focus of the narration switches between the characters in each chapter, showing the growing suspicion, fear and train of thought that they go through.
And Then There Were None is like an intricately constructed spider web that slowly draws you in to the point were you can’t turn back. As much of the story revolves around the psychology of the remote island, the book could also be considered as a psychological thriller that keeps its readers on their toes until the last page. For me it became my instant favourite of Christie’s work, but I do understand that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, I do highly recommend it, especially if you’re not sure which Agatha Christie novel to start with.
Best of an island is once you get there – you can’t go any farther…you’ve come to the end of things…