Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Why: I bought this gem on a book run for $1!! Happy dance 🙂 Also, Cultivating Time recommended the BBC adaptation.
Quote: “Best of an island is once you get there – you can’t go any farther…you’ve come to the end of things…”
New words: This is especially important after reading this awesome post by blogger Justine: contadini (Italian), Bedouin, sine qua non, deportment
Friend(s) who would enjoy this book: Cultivating Time (It is simply impossible for the adaptation to be better than the book) and Rohini
Song(s) in the soundtrack of this book:
1. I Didn’t Mean It, The Belle Brigade (For General Macarthur)
2. The Funeral, Band of Horses
“Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”
Indian Island is the name of a place that frequents the newspapers and gossip daily. People are unable to decide who owns it; among the guesses are celebrities, lawyers, and rich men with strange wives. So when ten strangers receive a personal invitation to the island from a U. N. Owen, they are thrilled to go. It quickly becomes evident that these people are united by their secrets, and that U.N. Owen is very aware of their moral transgressions. And as ten small Indian figurines disappear one by one corresponding with the guests in the house, each guest realizes that in Indian Island, they’ve reached a dead end
And Then There Were None is a beautifully crafted murder that is completely enthralling until the end. It is not for the fainthearted (I count myself among them), as it creates living, breathing fear in your mind. I’d do three things before you start reading as to avoid interruptions and to have the most enjoyable reading experience: 1) If you have a house alarm, make sure it is on, 2) Check all bathrooms and closets before (it’s amazing what your brain can conjure up in the last couple of chapters), 3) If it’s nighttime and there’s a storm brewing, maybe put the book down. You’ve officially been warned now.
What makes this book so engaging to the reader is the layout. The first part of the book introduces the reader to each of the characters and tells the reader why they are traveling to Indian Island. If you’re looking to exercise your dendrites and axons, this will definitely appeal to you. It is a profile of each of the characters, and as the story develops and you see the characters in each others eyes, all the clues are there, it is your job to do the detective work. The short chapters and the spotlight focus on each character really allows the reader to analyze actions to determine the murderer. Channel your inner Poirot, and solve the mystery from your armchair 🙂
The sheer creepiness of this book is quite distressing. Firstly, Christie uses the lovely children’s (yes, that was written for kids) ditty above wonderfully, the details such as a copy of the rhyme placed in every room and the 10 Indians disappearing as the murders happen, create a very frightening atmosphere. There is lots of foreshadowing, which means a lot of suspense. Christie ends up trapping 11 on that island- 10 characters plus you included.
The characters themselves are fantastic. It reminded me a bit of the Canterbury Tales because of the diverse group traveling together, you’ve got the token bad boy, the pious old woman, the army man, the working girl, and when you put them all in a house together with the threat of murder hanging over their heads, it’s just fireworks. Each of the characters has intricacies, and their development throughout the story is stunning. The plot itself was unguessable for me, but completely believable (which made it even more frightening). And the way Christie dispenses secrets throughout the novel is truly masterful. When you least expect them, they’re there.
There are two big themes in this book that really stood out to me. Firstly, Christie explores the effect of guilt on a person in an intense situation. The guilt each of the guests feel about the secrets they are hiding plays its own role in destroying their lives. And the changing mind of each of the characters as they stay in the house makes a very interesting study. Secondly, is a question of morality. Should we kill those who escape the law but have committed heinous acts? Who is entitled to doing this killing? To what extent should we take the law into our own hands? I was pleasantly surprised by the analysis in this book about the human psyche and the exploration into deeper human themes.
This book is the perfect detective story; it has all the elements: ingenious plot, interesting case studies, twists and turns galore, analysis of human character, and thrilling and engaging writing. I would recommend it to all the armchair detectives out there patiently waiting for a great thriller.