With Halloween right around the corner, it can be hard to find books to set the mood. My advice, when in doubt, pick a mystery book. And who better to read than the one and only Agatha Christie? “And Then There Were None” is an Agatha Christie classic showcasing a closed mystery where anyone can be a suspect.
Christie was born in Sept. 1890 in England. She grew up around stories and at age five she taught herself how to read. She continued to write throughout her life, publishing a total of at least 68 books and many short stories. Some of her biggest sellers include “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death on the Nile” and, of course, “And Then There Were None.”
Soldier Island, our setting, is known to the public as an island of mystery and wonder. Rumored to be occupied by celebrities and wealthy people alike, the average citizen is unaware of what really happens inside the walls of the ominous mansion on the island. One summer day, 10 strangers are invited to gather on Soldier Island all under different circumstances. They are unaware of the sinister truth: the host plans to murder all the guests invited.
As guests are murdered one by one, they wonder if the host even exists, making every single one of them a suspect.
Set on a fictional island on the coast of Devon, England, “And Then There Were None” takes place in the 1930s. It radiates that old-time feel and captures the iconic dinner party trope where all the guests are killed under mysterious circumstances. Its written in the third person omniscient point of view, so readers have access to all the characters in the novel. It adds suspense and makes the readers really question innocence.
Now, no spoilers. I won’t reveal “whodunit” in this review. I will leave that up to Ms. Christie.
We are introduced to 10 characters at the beginning of the novel, setting the stage for the story. First is Justice Wargrave, a wise old judge. Then there is Vera Claythorne, a young nanny, and Philip Lombard, who appears to be up to some sketchy business. There is also Emily Brent, an elderly woman looking for a vacation home. There’s General MacArthur, a World War I veteran, and Dr. Armstrong, a practicing doctor. Then there is Tony Marston, a young man looking for a party, and Mr. Blore, who also appears to be up to suspicious business. Finally, there’s Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, who are in charge of taking care of the house.
The mystery itself is constructed brilliantly. Christie does not shy away from a twisting story that is continuously full of surprises. It is a closed mystery, so the “whodunit” is not revealed until the end of the story. There is also no detective on the scene to help them solve the crime. The way Christie wrote this novel paints everyone to be innocent and guilty simultaneously. There are multiple moments where it is perceived to be impossible. How could they have died? Everyone was in the room.
Or were they?
There are clues sprinkled throughout the book that don’t seem important until the very end. The reveal was satisfying and worth the wait. I loved the setting as well, a creepy mansion on a secluded island was so fun to read. Especially during the fall time, reading books with creepy settings helps me get into the Halloween spirit.
I do have a few critiques about the book. To begin with, I felt I was several steps ahead of the characters. It could have just been my personal reading experience, and possibly due to the fact that I have been exposed to this trope before.
When the characters were putting the pieces together I realized I had already had that realization pages ago. However, I am well aware that in order for a concept like this to work the characters need to take their time figuring things out, especially in this case where there isn’t a skilled detective helping them solve it. With that being said, the characters themselves were sometimes a little challenging to read. Yes, they took their time solving the case, but some of them were very stubborn.
I’d recommend this book to any fan of mystery, especially people who love the board game “Clue.” It is not only a story written by one of the most classic mystery authors, but the premise is the basis of many movies and books written today. The dinner party trope is so ingrained in our culture it’s hard to imagine a world without it.
“And Then There Were None” is also a standalone, so it can be read without any prior knowledge of Christie’s books. It is a great introduction to her writing style and a spooky read for the Halloween and fall seasons.