Thursday, April 19, 2012

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

"One of us... One of us... One of us
Three words, endlessly repeated, dinning themselves hour after hour into receptive brains.
Five people - five frightened people. Five people who watched each other, who now hardly troubled to hide their state of nervous tension.
There was little pretense now  - no formal veneer of conversation. They were five enemies linked together by a mutual instinct of self-preservation."

Why have I waited so long to read Agatha Christie? And Then There Were None, first published as Ten Little Indians in 1939, is a fabulous classic mystery that kept me in suspense until the final page.

Ten strangers receive vague letters summoning them to Soldier Island off the coast of Devon. The host and owner of the island, reportedly an eccentric millionaire, is mysteriously absent upon their arrival and the ten find themselves quite alone. Ten soldier statues, along with copies of the children's rhyme "Ten Little Soldiers", are prominently displayed in the dining room. We learn almost immediately that each visitor has had a nebulous connection with a death at some point in their lives but, with no solid evidence, charges never followed. As the visitors begin to die one by one and according to the rhyme, the soldier figurines also disappear. Eventually, as the title suggests, there are none. Ten dead bodies are discovered on the island. 

This story will keep you turning pages, but Christie's skillful writing imparts a gradual, palpable increase in tension. The survivors, certain the murderer is one of them, become more suspicious and afraid as the hours pass. 

One piece of advice: allow yourself time to read this novel in just a few sittings. I started it last month as my 'bedtime book' and only read a few pages each night - not a good way to become immersed in a mystery with so many characters. Once it became my primary read, I reached the very satisfying conclusion (which I did not come close to figuring out ahead of time) in just a couple of days. I will reread this novel at some point and look for the clues I missed. 

There will definitely be more Agatha Christie in my future. Do you have a favorite to recommend?

source: borrowed
 rating: 








43 comments:

  1. Ah, JoAnn, you have treats ahead of you. Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors and some of her books seem timeless. Other have the vintage quirks (not vintage when they were written, of course).

    I might suggest DEATH ON THE NILE or MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS or THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD. All of these are Hercule Poirot books.

    For Miss Marple, SLEEPING MURDER (her last Miss Marple) or 4:50 FROM PADDINGTON or A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED. Actually, I love so many of AC's books.

    They translate well to audio, I think, and some of the narrators have starred in the TV movie adaptations - Hugh Fraser, David Souchet, or Joan Hickman. Enjoy!

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    1. Kay - Thanks for all the great suggestions! I'm thinking about Murder on the Orient Express next, but Nan also recommended A Murder is Announced. Guess I'll see what the library has available. I know Staci really likes the Hugh Fraser narration, too. So much to explore...

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  2. What was so exciting about reading my first Christie was realizing how many more she wrote and knowing I could return to her for years to come. Even if I am not reading her, I am watching her (I am a little obsessed with Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple right now...I have completely taken over the netflix queue:). It makes me do a little happy dance to know you have hit it off with The Queen of Mystery.

    My all-time favorite is Miss Marple's complete short story collection. All so well done and a perfect read for Halloween. I second A Murder is Announced...very, very good. Dumb Witness is excellent (it has a dog as a main character) and Murder on the Orient Express is clever beyond words.

    I think you are right about reading her books in a few, closely spaced sittings. If I had to come back to it, I would probably start over to make sure I hadn't missed or forgotten something.

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    1. Stacy - I don't think it will ever be possible to run out of Agatha Christie books, lol! The stories I've read are all from the Miss Marple collection... you recommended them to me quite some time ago. I may have to buy a copy of my own in October ;-)

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  3. I've never read her and I wonder sometimes how I've gotten away with that. This sounds like a lot of fun :)

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    1. Marie - I wondered the same thing... why not give one a try?

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  4. I loved reading this one as well; so glad you enjoyed it! It definitely has the right level of creepy and suspenseful moments. I'm just upset that I haven't read more Agatha Christie since then!

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    1. Natalie - Maybe we'll both be reading our second Christie soon...

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  5. This one is on my Fill In the Gaps list. I'm looking forward to reading it since both you and Staci have said good things about it.

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    1. Linda - That Staci is such an enabler ;-)

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  6. I really need to reread some of these books.

    BTW...there is a small typo in the title of the post. Thought you might like to know.

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    1. Ti - Don't know how that slipped past me... over and over again. Thank you!!

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  7. I second Murder on the Orient Express. I also liked the ABC Murders, just to name two. Christie is an amazing writer.

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    1. Loni - I probably will go with Murder on the Orient Express next, but will add ABC Murders to my list. Thanks.

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  8. I haven't read any Christie yet, I'm not a big mystery/thriller fan but you make this one sound so good! I have Death on the Nile on my shelf, it's supposed to be good.

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    1. Sam - I don't read many mysteries either (maybe only a couple each year), but I always seem to enjoy them. Should probably a more to the mix...

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  9. I read my first Christie last month (The Orient Express). I loved Poirot and really enjoyed the whole experience. This book, actually, is next on my AG list.

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    1. Christina - I have your March Mystery Madness to thank for this, even if I didn't get to finish in March. Oh, well...

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  10. I re-read this recently after many years, and I found it just as unsettling and suspenseful as I remembered - probably the creepiest of her books. I will put in a plug for Tommy & Tuppence, starting with A Secret Adversary - though Death on the Nile or Murder on the Orient Express would be on the top of my list.

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    1. Lisa May - I haven't heard of Tommy & Tuppence... will check it out. Murder on the Orient Express may be next for me. Thanks!

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  11. It has been so many years since I've read her books that they will probably like new to me! Hopefully, I won't remember "who done it".

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    1. Nise' - They'd probably still be good even if you remember ;-)

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  12. This was my first and only Christie (but not my last). I listened to it and almost wish that I had read it instead because of the amount of characters and the amount of time it took to listen. I can see how this one would be better read in a short amount of time. But like Nise--I have a TERRIBLE memory and can't remember off-hand who did it. Ha! So glad you enjoyed it JoAnn!

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    1. Trish - I think this would be a hard book to listen to! I flipped back to check on the characters and their 'unpunished crimes' SO many times...

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  13. I love Christie! They are a great comfort read for me. The Hercule Poirot ones are my favorites, then the Miss Marples. I think the others have mentioned the biggies, although I have yet to read a Christie that I didn't enjoy, and I've read probably 20 or so. My dad bought her complete collection when I was younger and I read through quite a bit of them, but didn't want to read all of them and not have any "new" ones to discover later! :) I suppose it's now later and I should finish reading them!

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    1. Lindsey Sparks - I can see why so many people love Christie and even consider her works as comfort reads. Looks like I'll be turning to Hercule Poirot next in Murder on the Orient Express. It's definitely 'later'... go ahead and read those books ;-)

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  14. Glad you discovered Christie...one of my favorites...and you started with the best. Enjoy the rest of your Christie discoveries. I'd also recommend Dorothy L. Sayers beginning with Whose Body? and Margery Allingham. These are the Queens of Mystery.

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    1. Donna - Thanks so much for your suggestions! I have Dorothy L. Sayers on my list, but had no idea where to start. I'm not familiar with Margery Allingham, but will check on her work right now.

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  15. Yippee!! So glad that you loved this one...I did too and listening to it really built the tension. I never had a clue as to who the murderer was...blew me away. I'm still discovering her works and I really liked Crooked House..that was the last one I listened to.

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    1. Staci - I didn't even come close to figuring this out! Can't wait to read and listen to more Christies. I'm sure I'll be double checking your blog for more titles.

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  16. I was finishing up this book the other day when I saw that you had read it. I didn't allow myself to stop and read your review until I finished and had posted my review. Now I see we had similar experiences. It was a most amazing plot, wasn't it? It proves Christie's genius for the genre. So far this one is my favorite. I also really liked The Body In the Library and Murder On the Orient Express.

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    1. Margot - I'm still in awe of that plot! How in the world did Christie come up with something like that? Murder on the Orient Express will probably be next for me, but I'l add The Body in the Library to my list, too. Will be right over to read your review...

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  17. I loved this book when I read it last year. I had not read any Christie since middle school. I actually listened to it, and it was a great experience.

    Then I read The Man in the Brown Suit, which was more of an adventure novel with a mystery, but it too was amazing. Glad you found Christie. :)

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    1. Picky - Still can't believe I never read Christie when i was younger.. will have to make up for lost time now!

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  18. I haven't read enough Christie to have a favorite but I watched the old movie (old even back then :)) and really liked it.

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    1. Stacybuckeye - Thanks for reminding me about those old movies... off to add a few to my Netflix queue.

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  19. Just saw your post from The Classics Club Check-in, and since And Then There Were None is one of my favorite books, I had to come see your thoughts on it. It's hard to think of another book with so much tension, and I think that the use of the omniscient viewpoint really drives this. And that ending is truly shocking!

    I've only read about ten Christie books, and this one is by far my favorite, but if I had to recommend others, I'd go with Death on the Nile and A Murder Is Announced. If you're looking for something different, Death Comes as the End is set in ancient Egypt and is also marvelously entertaining.

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    1. Manymediamusings - This was such a fabulous introduction to Agatha Christie! I can't wait to read more. There have been a few recommendations for A Murder Is Announced and the plot description really intrigues me. Will add it to my summer reading list. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  20. Very late to the party - and yes, I have a favorite Agatha Christie but it's this one. I love it! I have read it several times and usually, I have forgotten who did it (although I remember right now). It's an amazing book! So well thought out! So yeah, I need to read more Agatha Christie too - just not sure which one will be the next. Maybe the Roger Ackroyd one ...

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    1. Christina - I will definitely read this book again - wonder if I will pick up any clues next time around. Hope to read more Agatha Christie this summer... maybe Murder on the Orient Express.

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  21. I recently discovered Agatha Christie and was immediately taken with her. As I read more of her books, however, I became uncomfortable with some of the subtle racism. Recently, I read "They do it with mirrors," and the racism was no longer subtle. Also, as if it wasn't bad enough, "Ten little indians," was not the ORIGINAL title of the book, it was even worse. I don't want to write it her, but people can google it. I now find myself very conflicted about Agatha Chrisite. What do others think?

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    1. Dena - This is still the only one of Christie's novels I've read - not sure why it's taking so long to read more. I was aware of the original title (before Ten Little Indians) and, although shocked, I try not to judge what was written in 1939 by 21st century values. My opinion may change as I read more of her work, especially titles like They Do It With Mirrors.

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  22. Thanks for responding! I'd be interested to hear what you think.

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