And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
And Then There Were None has a special way of getting under my skin and making me look over my shoulder. It’s what all good suspenseful psychological murder mysteries will do. This book creeped me out as a child and didn’t fail to do so this time around.
And Then There Were None begins with ten strangers journeying to spend time on Indian Island. Each of them has received a carefully worded invitation sure to draw them to the island. None of the travelers have a true understanding of who will meet them (each only vaguely remembers the friend from whom they have received their correspondence), but they have heard rumors of an actress that may or may not own the property, and of wild goings-on at the property. They also all have a strong motivation for wanting to be anywhere but home.
The visitors to the island are surprised when they realize that neither host nor hostess are on the island, and then a terrible recording comes on at dinner announcing crimes that they have purportedly committed. Shortly after mysterious deaths start to occur. It doesn’t take the group long to figure out that they have been lured to Indian Island to be executed for crimes that have gone unpunished. They realize that the executioner has to be one of them.
The beginning of the novel bored me a bit as all the characters were being introduced. They were hard to keep track of, and my adult self found myself in agreement with my twelve-year-old self in wanting them to get along with it. I was grateful when some of the characters were picked off because there were just too many stories. It was a curious experience to watch events unfold because while I didn’t like any of the victims, there was a terror in imagining myself in their position, and that occupied me more than caring about them. I also wanted to see who was next, and in what unexpected way their murder would occur and match up with the nursery rhyme.
And Then There Were None has a terrifying premise, and Christie proves to be the master of suspense – she is able to build the spine-tingling factor in spite of a rather implausible plot. Would you really go traipsing off to some island without talking to your host? Without knowing them well? Without having spoken to them in years? All of these folks do and while I didn’t buy it completely, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The story works anyway. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading.
I’m not sure if this is one of these novels where you actually have the clues to figure it out beforehand. In spite of having read this book before, it was long enough ago that while I remembered how the killer was doing things, I didn’t remember who it was. I had a strong suspicion, though. The manner in which the killer is revealed did leave something to be desired, but the beauty of what Christie accomplished with this one still remains intact and is definitely worth a read.