And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
How was Easter for you all? Wherever you are and if you celebrated it or not, I do hope you managed to have a nice break. As the UK is still in lockdown, we were unable to go anywhere apart from our usual walk around the duck lake. We spent part of the weekend doing a bit of DIY, complete with a flying visit to Wickes for supplies. And of course there was lots of reading and watching some cosy movies. We also swapped our Easter books. Chris bought me Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' and Chris received from me an Ursula le Guin book. And so Easter Sunday found me happily sat in bed reading my new Agatha Christie book munching on a Malteaster Bunny. A very happy Easter indeed.
And Then There Were None is a standalone Agatha Christie novel and does NOT feature either Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot.
Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock off the Devon coast. The host is absent and a children's rhyme 'Ten Little Soldiers' hangs in each room detailing the deaths of ten little soldiers. On the dining room table sit ten small, white figurines. Then one of the party is murdered and a mysterious message is played accusing each of the party of a different and heinous crime. The murder ties in with the rhyme and one of the figurines has disappeared. Who is next? As the next murders are committed, and as the island is empty of people, could the murderer be one of the ten guests?
I loved this. Over the years there have been various movie and TV adaptations and in my opinion none of them come close to the book, which is a measure of how good the book actually is. Over my time on the blog, I'm sure you have become aware that I do love my Miss Marple books and am starting to enjoy the Hercule Poirot novels as well. But is was nice to appreciate Agatha Christie's writing and plot-making without some of her best loved characters to rely on.
The plot is ingenious. I spent most of my time wondering who was next and who on earth the murderer was. The landscape almost becomes the eleventh character. Dark and foreboding and preventing escape from the island. It all adds to the oppressive atmosphere and the feeling of impending doom for our characters.
The cast are not terribly likeable. At first glance, many of them are respectable pillars of society, but each harbours a terrible secret. Some feel remorse and guilt, others nothing at all. And it is fascinating to watch their actions as more murders occur. They become more mistrustful, defensive and suspicious of each other. It is a lesson in psychology and one at which Christie excels.
It is not hard to see how this has become one of Agatha Christie's best loved books, selling over 100 million copies. So If you are looking for a perfect afternoon read of cosy crime, then you would do well with this. I certainly enjoyed my Easter present!