And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

October 9, 2011 at 01:53 (Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Mystery) (, , , )

9/10

Also published as Ten Little Indians (among other titles), the suspense in this book was magnified for me personally when I was told the wrong ending in advance. In spite of that, And Then There Were None is one of Christie’s more uncanny and otherworldly mysteries; the tension is masterfully built, and the extensive cast of characters are shepherded and presented in an orderly and clear manner. In developing her characters Christie focuses on Vera, the Judge and the Doctor just a little more and a little vigorously than on the rest of the ensemble, which gives the reader just one more clue to figuring out the plot, in addition to the “three clues” she rather vaingloriously parades at the very end.

Although the novel manner of the murder, the assembly of the guests and the motif of the children’s rhyme take centre stage, and despite the complexity of the plot, this is one of Christie’s few mysteries where the crime and its detection underlie a harder question: the nature of guilt and criminality, culpability and justice. Christie’s subversion of even odious characters like the multiple killer, the shameless Lombard, into dashing and heroic centrepieces is astonishing. Her success at recruiting the reader’s sympathy against the vigilante justice rather than on the side of rectitude is startling and impressive.

“Heavenly visitants, eh? No, I don’t believe in the supernatural. This business is human enough.”

-And Then There Were None

The first few chapters of this book are, in fact, the only seriously weak part of the whole. Christie stumbles noticeably in her introduction of such a large and detailed cast, which leads even an attentive reader to much page flapping and doublechecking for several chapters more; an even graver sin is a baffling weakness of dialogue that is extremely obvious in the first chapter or two, and which she never totally recovers from. Even when the pacing and excellent plot begin to seize the reader’s attention, the dialogue is a background problem throughout. For that reason it is impossible to rate this book as one of Agatha Christie’s absolute best, although it is definitely an imaginative and confident thriller and a corking good read by any standard.

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1 Comment

  1. Kami said,

    I’ve greatly enjoyed several of your reviews and have been moved to read a book or two that I have previously passed over. Thanks.

    Also, I’d love to send you the most recent book put out by us here at Lantern Hollow Press (Waverly Hall: Relois by Brian Melton). Please email me at

    Looking forward to reading many, many more reviews!
    Godspeed!

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