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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie: Book Review

Not to keep you in suspense, I’m writing my first post in this section about what I consider the most golden of all Golden Oldies–And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

I have read this mystery at least five times over the years, each time with the thought that this time I’d see the red herrings and clues that I hadn’t noticed the previous times I had read the book.  After all, I knew after the first reading what had happened and why.

But that didn’t happen.  With each reading I was more impressed by the author’s ability to completely mystify me, to lead me down paths that definitely led me away from the murderer, all the while being convinced that I knew exactly what she was doing. In my mind there’s no one like Dame Agatha  (she was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1956).

For those not familiar with the novel’s plot, ten people, a very disparate group, are invited to a deserted island off the coat of Devon. There seems to be nothing in common among them–there’s a judge, a rich young racing car enthusiast, a married couple who are the servants on the island, a retired military man, a governess, a former policeman, an elderly woman, a mercenary, and a physician.

Each had received a somewhat cryptic invitation from someone who professed to be an acquaintance, inviting them to spend a few days on the island.  But when the group was assembled, it turned out that no one knew exactly who had invited them, and there was no host or hostess there.

All was set for their arrival however, and they anticipated that the next day would bring the owner of the island to the house.  But after dinner, the manservant played a recording that accused each of the guests of being a murderer. They all vehemently denied the accusations with various excuses or reasons for the deaths that were described, and all claimed they were innocent.

The young race car enthusiast admitted that he had run down and killed two pedestrians some time ago, but he said that certainly wasn’t murder, just an accident that was “beastly bad luck.”  He picked up his drink at the bar, swallowed it in a gulp, convulsed, and died in front of the group.

And then the other guests started dying, one by one. At first there was denial, the guests saying that the deaths were natural–suffocation, a weak heart.  But soon there was the realization that someone had decided that these people literally had gotten away with murder and needed to be punished.

And Then There Were None is a masterpiece. Perhaps it’s dated, as a Sherlock Holmes story may be dated, but that doesn’t take away one bit from its perfection.  If you haven’t read it, put it on your reading list.  If you have, you know why it’s heading the G. O. list.

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