Author: Agatha Christie
Genres [according to Goodreads]:
Mystery > Crime
Thriller > Mystery Thriller
Mystery > Detective
European Literature > British Literature
Academic > School
Published/Publisher: November 6th 1939/Collins Crime Club
Format Read In: Paperback
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:
“Oh, yes. I’ve no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman – probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.” – Justice Wargrave; And Then There Were None, A. Christie
“We’re not going to leave the island … None of us will ever leave … It’s the end, you see – the end of everything …”. He hesitated, then he said in a low strange voice:
“That’s peace – real peace. To come to the end – not to have to go on … Yes, peace …” – General John Gordon Macarthur; And Then There Were None, A. Christie
[Triggers for this novel: descriptions of deaths, blood, anti-black + antisemetic + anti-indigenous slurs]
Before I start, shout-out to everyone who cringed at the first two titles that graced this book’s cover since the late 30s. I sure as hell cringed inwardly and outwardly, complete with awkwardly bending my arms into my torso like I was paper burning over the fire. For those not aware of the original titles, google them so you can join us cringers.
Let’s begin! Firstly, it’s no wonder this novel is considered one of, if not the best-selling mystery novel of all time and an incredibly famous classic that has been adapted numerous times. The creepy atmosphere Christie sets up in the island and from the characters really sets the tone and doesn’t relent for the rest of the novel. Especially when characters start to hallucinate as their guilt eats away at them. I thought it was really cool to have the name of the person who invited everyone onto the island be U. N. Own (or ‘Unknown’; I’m not clever, the characters realize this less than half way through the book). I live for that kind of cheesy word/letter-play!
The island itself is an important character. It hosts a rather magnificent house, not the spooky kind but the kind you’d see on magazine covers owned by celebrities, but the rest of the island is deserted and rocky, dangerous and foreboding. It’s a pretty good representation of our characters, who present themselves as non-threatening and honest in their personalities but who all hide the dark shared ability of being able to commit and get away with first-degree murder. Safe to say none of the characters were particularly likeable. Some of them carried no guilt from their actions, which made them all the more horrifying. I felt bad for Ethel Rogers since the book had made it sort of apparent that she had been forced to commit the murder by her husband but at least she had a quiet death.
I can honestly say I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. I figured one of them had to be the murderer after the characters searched the island and found no place for someone to hide. Then came wondering who could be the culprit. I don’t read a lot of crime and mysteries, though I’m trying to change that, but I do watch some crime shows and yet I was stumped (don’t judge me!). It makes me feel a little better that Christie had noted that this was a hard book for her to write. Reading the epilogue was eye-opening and I was excited to find how little quotes that were dropped around the book leading up to the end started to make sense. There’s a thrill when all the pieces are put together (which is why I had found ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ so frustrating at times). It’s a brilliant crime and the work of a really diabolic person.
But it does pose a really good question, one that is explored in numerous other works, no doubt due to the influence of this novel: Can any one person be the ultimate judge of justice? Can any one person determine who lives and who dies rather than a jury? Is the murder of cold-blooded murderers acceptable?
Knowing that this book was written quite awhile, it still bothered me to read the racist and antisemitic bits in this book. That’s probably my only real complaint about the book.
Overall, this is a very memorable book, one that I kept me coming back to it until I relented and just sat down to finish the rest. It’s not a long book, and the short chapters made me feel like I was making lots of progress, but it can kind of feel like a long book. It was a fun read!
My Rating: 3.5/5