Agatha Christie never fails to impress me, she really might be the Queen of Crime Writing. I chose this book for my online book club. I have read a couple of other Christies, that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The hardest but most satisfying and rewarding part of a book club, is sharing a book or an author with a group of people and not knowing if they are going to enjoy it as much as you. Thankfully, we are two books in and everyone has, I hope, enjoyed them. As this is a review for my book club, my review is going to be slightly different, I don’t usually go into synopsis much, or have to add spoilers but for this one, I am adding a *SPOILER ALERT*. If you have never read it and want to in the future, please stop reading now and come back when you’ve read it!
Back to And then there were none, I think the novel starts of as quite a slow burner, I think it had to do this to get you drawn in, and understanding the characters. I don’t believe this knowledge of the characters, helps with guessing the mystery or following every twist and turn, but I think thats the huge draw of this book. The psychology of this book, the characters, their history and individual storylines, all mix and twist together, and at every point, I as a reader, thought “ooh maybe thats a clue,” or “I have an idea who is behind it all”, only to be proven wrong or the clue to be a red herring or such.
I would say I am not a novice when it comes to crime/mystery/thrillers, I know my way around a whodunnit, and even though I came awfully close to guessing the end, it had me and I was shocked and amazed by the ending.
The premise for the mystery has probably been written about a few more times since Christie first wrote it, a group fo strangers on an island, something was bound to happen. But I believe this maybe the original premise in this story, and even with the slow start, kept me intrigued from start to finish.
A group of strangers, all with interesting and wicked pasts, are invited to holiday at an unknown millionaires private residence. Here they will each face their past, look upon their wicked deeds of the past and face judge, jury and executioner for the crimes they each got away. Someone knows about their past, has decided they won’t be getting away with their crimes and has come to seek justice. The story moves along in pace with a creepy and chilling poem about ten little “soldiers” (in the newer printings. I have an older copy that still refers to little “niggers” in the poem- which makes the whole story slightly more chilling, as it really gives the book an older viewpoint, so when reading it, you realise the visitors have no way fo escape, there is no wifi or proper phones. The poem is horrible and completely rascist and sensitive – but the way the killer uses it to pysche put the victims is cunning and clever) whom all meet a terrible fate and soon, the visitors start to face similar fates.
Ten little Indian boys went out to dine,
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late,
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon,
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up some sticks,
One chopped himself in half and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive,
A bumblebee stung one of them and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law,
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea,
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo,
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun,
One got all frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy left all alone,
He went and hanged himself, and then there were none.
And with all these characters putting each other under scrutiny, so does the reader. Yet no one on the Island feels like they fit the bill for this mysterious owner or seeker of Justice. There are plenty who tick a few boxes, but at each twist and turn, it gets harder and harder to see who the killer might be. Even when the final character meets their surprising end, we are still left wondering what the hell happened.
I won’t completely spoil this for you, but it was an interesting and amazing read, I finished within two days (I know, I’m not sure what happened) and passed it onto Mamma Butterfly, whom also finished it in 1 day and we then spent the next week discussing, disecting and generally enjoying the conversations it presented. My sister also borrowed it and thoroughly enjoyed it too.
I had a couple of friends in my book group whom also enjoyed it, I believe one struggled with the start but once she got into it, enjoyed it. Check out my book group on facebook – Butterfly Child Book Group – where hopefully I can get a few more opinions on the book to share.
I already loved Agatha Christie Novels, and this book has just taken it one step further. It was an incredible read, I can’t say I liked or disliked characters as I don’t think it was about that. It was more about how some stories we believe and some characters we make opinions about or connect too, and yet if you have an unreliable narrator or even if you just don’t get the full story, it soon goes to show you can’t always trust our instincts, the stories people tell or even base opinions of peoples careers or temperament. As this can all be an act or hide a truly terrifying or horrible person. But thankfully, (not shown in this book), we know in real life, there is plenty of people the other way, who can be frosty or unsociable but are the kindest, most generous people we know. This story would be an amazing study of personality if it were based on real life. Christie makes this novel unique, exciting and brings the shock factor, as I would never have guessed the ending in a million years. With every twist and turn, and ending of a character, we can question everything about what we know about each character, I found myself skipping back to see if I missed something. I started out with normal theories (perhaps it was the man that brought them in on the boat and he returned to do the deeds) and soon ended up down the rabbit hole, into Narnia, around the houses and back again with some much more confusing theories. (Perhaps there was a hidden tunnel that lead from the mainland. Maybe it was all a dream of someone travelling to the island – I know I lost my way with this one. Or my closest idea, to do with fake dying, swapping bodies and coming back to life, but I couldn’t decide who, and then with everyone dead at the end, I thought well its obviously not that, and came back full circle, to what the hell happened on the Island. And I, like so many others, just had to read the epilogue and be shocked and amazed along with everyone else.
Four out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ★
This book loses a star due to the slow start. It wasn’t a problem for me as I’m a character focussed reader, but for people who want to dive straight into excitement, its bit of a slow burner. Also, if you’re accustomed to murder mysteries, you may be able to guess the ending, which would take some of the fun out of it. As I say, I was so close to guessing but I got turned off that idea about 3 pages from the end, so it still kept me guessing. This is part of the fun, so for people who aren’t fans of twists and turns or who may guess the ending, this book might not be a five for you. For me, its a five, I think it lays the foundations for so many other crime writing that followed Christies wonderfully work.
I have read two out of the three books in this collection – and thoroughly enjoyed both! Why not give them a go? I’m off to buy Murder on the Orient Express as I write.
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