Book Review : And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
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.
A Sneak Peek Into the Story :
There were 10 little soldiers.
One; Justice Wargrave. Who received a letter from a certain Lady Constance Culmington asking him to visit Soldier Island. In the practically illegible letter, some words stood out : Dearest Lawrence…such years since I heard anything of you…must come to Soldier Island…the most enchanting place…so much to talk over…old days…communion with nature…bask in sunshine…
It didn’t take Justice Wargrave long to make the decision to take the next train to Soldier Island, all the while trying to remember where had he met this alluring Constance Culmington.
Two; Vera Claythorne. She had been invited to Soldier Island by a certain lady called Una Nancy Owen, with a summer job offer as her secretary. Miss Vera knows that this opportunity doesn’t come often, if at all. She must be terribly lucky! And for that, she will not wait any second else this chance slip out of her fingers!
Three; a tall man with light eyes, brown face, and an arrogant, almost cruel mouth. Philip Lombard was the name. His only aim was the 100 guineas promised by Mr. Isaac Morris by the end of all this. To earn the promised 100 guineas, Philip Lombard was to travel to Soldier Island for a week, where he was to be at the disposal of a client there.
Being a man who was tight on income, Philip Lombard would be foolish to refuse this offer. Moreover, he had a reputation of being a good man in a tight place. Lombard was certain that he could get himself out of any nasty situation, he had been doing that for the best part of his life, after all.
“A madman has all the advantages on his side.
He’s twice as cunning as any one sane can be.”
Four; was a lady sitting upright in a non-smoking carriage as per her custom. A 65 year old lady named Miss Emily Brent. She too received a letter, signed by a certain U.N.O. who claimed to have met her in Belhaven Guest House. Since they had so much in common while they were spending their time there, Emily Brent was invited to come visit Soldier Island as the person who wrote the letter stated that they were opening a guest house there. It was promised that there will be plenty of open space, as well as good food and good company.
Miss Emily Brent sat there, letting her mind travel back to then people she met at Belhaven. There had been that nice middle-aged woman, called…Mrs Olton. Wait, Ormen. Or was it Oliver? Oliver! Yes–Oliver. Now that she had figured out the name behind the signature, suddenly she couldn’t wait to get to Soldier Island.
“Everyone made such a fuss over things nowadays! They wanted injections before they had teeth pulled—they took drugs if they couldn’t sleep—they wanted easy chairs and cushions and the girls allowed their figures to slop about anyhow and lay about half naked on the beaches in summer.”
Five; General McArthur. Who had decided to head to Soldier Island as soon as he heard that he would have the chance to meet and reconnect with some of his old friends. Not to mention, with all the gossip that has been surrounding Soldier Island lately, he just could not find the will to resist his curiosity.
Six; a doctor who was not only skillful, but was also blessed with a dash of luck. The Dr Armstrong that you see today had not always been this successful. He had known failure, had encountered it over and over again. But because of his tenacity, and his willingness to work hard, he had all the success he had today. Even now however, despite the success that Dr Armstrong had amassed, he could not allow himself to rest. But he wanted to, oh, how he craved holidays.
It was just as well, Dr Armstrong thought to himself as he sped across Salisbury Plain. He’s heading over to see a client by the name of Owens in Soldier Island. This shall count as a small vacation.
“There was something magical about an island—the mere word suggested fantasy. You lost touch with the world—an island was a world of its own. A world, perhaps, from which you might never return.”
Seven; was stretching as he walked out of the hotel and into his car. He knew the young women were looking at him admiringly. Rightfully so. In his six feet of well-proportioned body, his crisp hair that was styled just so, tanned face and blue eyes, it would be a feat for them not to stare. With that in mind, Tony Marston was smirking as he let in the clutch with a roar and sped down the narrow street. This mansion in Soldier Island should at least have alcohol, right? It would be even better if there were girls there too. Tony Marston could only hope.
Eight; Mr Blore. A police officer who was sitting in a slow train from Plymouth and carefully writing in his little notebook. Soldier Island. He remembered Soldier Island as a boy. Smelly sort of rock covered with gulls—stood about a mile from the coast. Ten people including him. Mr Blore slowly nodded to himself, the job ought to be easy enough. Don’t see how I can slip up on it.
Nine and Ten, were the manservant and his wife : Mr and Mrs Rogers. The couple was hired to work in the mansion as Mrs Rogers was a good cook, and Mr Rogers was handy about the house. Nothing really stood out when it came to these two. Other than the fact that Mrs Rogers seemed to be an anxious woman who appeared to be afraid of her own shadows.
10 little soldiers. Strangers who had no idea the other existed before they all met in Soldier Island. What is the point of all of this? Someone seemed to be orchestrating all of this, playing them against each other like puppets. But if that was the case, who was it? And what was their goal?
3 Words to Sum Up This Book :
Compelling, unputdownable, peculiar
First, please allow me to just start off this review with two words : Hallelujah, baby!
“And Then There Were None” was quite literally the first book I have read all the way through since falling into a deep, dark, and long book slump since November of last year. I kid you not, since November 2018 I have been DNF-ing (Did Not Finish) books left and right. Nothing seems to be able to hold my attention for long periods of time, and I ended up either getting bored of the characters, or getting sick and tired of the plot because it was just too predictable.
Then, things started to take a turn for the better when I figured that maybe, the book genre I was reading just wasn’t for me anymore. That was when I decided to take an experimental dip of my toes into mystery/thriller books. Which brings me to this gem.
“Watch and pray,’ he said.
‘Watch and pray. The day of judgment is at hand.”
Let me just say, this book is the epitome of brilliance. I couldn’t be any happier that I chose to go with the recommendations and picked this classic up. I don’t know why I have never decided to get out my bubble and try out other book genres after all this time. Because I am being 100% honest when I say, for my first ever mystery/thriller novel, this book was simply mesmerizing. It captivated my attention from start to finish. And not a lot of books can do that.
I couldn’t say how original the plot is, since I haven’t had enough mystery/thriller novel reading experience under my belt, but I really liked the way everything was executed. “And Then There Were None” is essentially a novel about 10 people who were invited to an island, where the ten people were picked one by one to die, until in the end, everyone dies. Yes, everyone. By the end of the book, every single body on that island was found in different stages of decaying.
But then you’ll ask, but what about the culprit? Who’s the culprit? People don’t just go and die like that without someone killing them.
That’s where the mystery comes in. In between the 10 of them, one of them should be the killer. Right? Simple. Find the killer, stop the killing spree. It’s only 1 in 10. That’s not too hard to figure out, I hope?
“One of us, ’is lordship said. Which one? That’s what I want to know.
Who’s the fiend in ’uman form?’
‘That,’ said Blore, ‘is what we all would like to know.”
I wouldn’t say that my brain is detective material –– because who am I kidding. However, there were a few times where I have gone close to finding out who the killer was. I was not 100% sure, but I had my guesses. However, before I could really look deeper into my suspicions, by the next chapter Agatha Christie had already flipped the whole thing around and wiped my assumptions clean of who the bad guy could have been.
That too is one of the joys of reading this book, I like the fact that I was constantly jumping between characters. Suspecting one in this chapter, yet jumping on another in the next. I was constantly being kept on my toes. And for some odd reason, I really liked that about this book.
While reading this novel, I was so immersed in it that I forgo sleep to finish it. It was that good. I have seen a lot of reviews of people talking about how they could not put this book down once they picked it up. But knowing me, of course I give not mind to it. Until I experienced it all for myself. I quite literally devoured this book in 2 sitting, and I can’t say I regretted it.
“In my experience of ill-doing, Providence leaves the work of conviction and chastisement to us mortals—and the process is often fraught with difficulties. There are no short cuts.”
Out of everything, the one thing that I have a tad bit difficulty with is the language. Seeing that this book is a classic in and of itself, I was prepared that it would be a little challenging to read. But what I didn’t know was that this book was written in British English, instead of American English. Which resulted in a few interesting moments while I was reading the book. I have had to pause and tilt my head in confusion, a few more time more than I’d like to admit.
Sentences such as :
“Queer business when you came to think of it—the whole thing was queer—very queer…”
“Fred Narracott sat by the engine thinking to himself that this was a queer lot.”
“That fellow Lombard now, he was a queer chap. Not straight. He’d swear the man wasn’t straight.”
Had misled me more than I care to admit. I have had to sit there, and wonder if the whole group were really gay. Or did it have any other hidden meanings that I didn’t know about.
Apparently, after some internet searching, I found out that “queer” in this sense, means “strange”. Even then though, I still like to take it out of context sometimes because I’m childish like that.
In all honesty, I could not sing enough praises for this book. There is nothing from me than absolute adoration when it comes to this book. A book with seemingly such a simple plot, was packaged in a such a way that pulled the readers so deeply into the story that even they themselves started feeling anxious and suspicious about every single one of the characters, is a book well written.
“And Then There Were None” was concise, simple, and pretty straightforward with the plot. However, had it not been for the epilogue where everything was explained in the end, I would not have been able to figure it out even if I were given 100 years to think about it. Agatha Christie’s ability to be able to write up something so complex and intricate yet at the same time so easy to read and understand, especially for a mystery/thriller noob like me, says a lot about her ability as a writer and an author.
“Do you like sitting here looking out to sea?’
He nodded his head gently.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It’s pleasant. It’s a good place, I think, to wait.’
‘To wait?’ said Vera sharply. ‘What are you waiting for?’
He said gently:
The Verdict :
Do I recommend this book? Yes, a thousand times yes.
This is one of those books that everyone should read at least once before they die, in my humble opinion. Because trust me, you’re missing out on a lot of mind boggling awesomeness if you don’t. Even for someone as bitchy –– excuse my French –– and picky as I, when it comes to books managed to have her socks blown off by how good this book was.
Not to mention, this book was short. Which really fits someone who has a short attention span –– like me, or a first time reader. Not like it’s going to matter anyway though, since it’ll be hard for you to put this book down once you start anyway. *wink*
One thing really interesting that I’ve realized after reading this book is that; I think, it has awaken something dark and twisted inside me. Because now, there is nothing I want more than to read more and more gory mystery/thriller books. The nastier and the more fucked-up, the better. Your girl has either started to come loose around the edge and is becoming little bit unhinged, or she’s just simply addicted now that she’s had the taste of mystery novels.