Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (Cardinal Editions, 1960)

I was inspired to re-read Agatha Christie’s famous mystery novel And Then There Were None after reading FictionFan’s book review. I’d read this short mystery story a couple of times before, years ago, but it had always stuck in my memory as one of the finest mystery novels I’ve read. Years ago, reading it for the first time, I recall the tension as the plot unfolded.

Ten people find themselves on a remote island with a mysterious reputation – eight guests and two servants. Their host/employer is unknown to each of them and doesn’t seem to be present on the island. A recording accuses them each of murder and then they begin to die, one by one. With no one else on the island, it’s clear that one of the ten is an insane murderer.

Having read the book before, I remembered clearly who the murderer was and how he managed to pull of such a complex scheme. The first time I read And Then There Were None, it was truly creepy as the group was killed off and suspicions grew between each of them. While this read didn’t have that level of creepiness, it was fascinating to observe the murderer at work and how, if the reader was observant enough, there were clues to point in his or her direction.

When discussing mystery stories with someone recently, they gave Agatha Christie as an example of a “tidy” mystery writer. Meaning there isn’t a lot of blood and gore and the mystery is neatly solved at the end of the story. Actions and motives are explained. While some readers may not like this, I realized this is exactly what I like best in a mystery. I want a clear answer at the end of the novel and I want it fully resolved. And I don’t like reading about a lot of blood and gore. So while I don’t enjoy a lot of mysteries, I have always enjoyed Agatha Christie’s work.

And Then There Were None is deservedly one of Christie’s most famous stories. She was a master of tension and suspense. Much of the book will feel dated to a modern reader but charmingly so – no island could be so close and yet so cut off as this one is. And re-reading the novel, I couldn’t help but wonder how ten people could be so willing to isolate themselves and not learn a little more about their host. At the bottom of it though, Christie understood something about human nature. What motivates us, what moves us, and what we fear.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie”

  1. This will be my next Miss Marple read, and I am really looking forward to it, since I now have two positive reviews to go by. I have to say, though, that I would not immediately think of Miss Marple if I only saw the cover of your copy and nothing else. 🙂

    1. This one isn’t a Miss Marple book, though definitely still worth reading! And I still have no idea who the woman on the front cover is supposed to be within the context of the story 🙂

  2. I’m going to read Murder on the Orient Express to get myself ready for the movie coming out! I heard it’s one of her best, after this one of course 🙂

  3. Glad you enjoyed your re-read and thanks for the link! Yes, that’s why I’m enjoying reading more classic crime – the emphasis was always firmly on the puzzle rather than fixating on the grief of the victim’s families and so on. Less realistic, of course, but I’m not really looking for realism in crime fiction, on the whole – though I am looking for credibility. And although sometimes Christie’s set-ups feel contrived, I always think her characters’ motivations are believable, and in this book I thought that was particularly true.

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