And Then There Were None

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UK first edition with original title.

And Then There Were None, originally published with the highly racist title, Ten Little N*ggers, is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie first published on 1939-11-06. The book is about ten criminals who have been tricked onto an island only to discover their unknown host intends to kill them off one-by-one.

Personal

I've always heard that this book was good, a great example of early murder mystery fiction, and highly influential to the genre. When I came upon an audio book recording, I decided to listen to it. While reading about the book for this article, I discovered its original title and was quite shocked. I finished the book on 2021-07-24.

Status

I do not own this book, but I've listening to the audio book read by Hugh Fraser.

Review

Good

  • Christie does a great job setting the mood and creating an air of mystery as the guests make their way to the island.
  • I like the premise of having one of the guests be the murderer. It creates a lot of tension between the characters as they try to identify the killer while everyone is being murdered around them. This caused me to try and identify the murderer along the way.

Bad

  • With such a large cast of characters, I initially found it difficult to picture them all in my head at the same time. A bit more backstory or description for each character would have helped.
  • While I liked the clues and red herrings described through the book, I don't feel as though Christie gave enough evidence for anyone to actually solve the mystery, even for the most attentive readers.

Ugly

  • The original title, the cover illustration, and the nursery rhyme used throughout the book, are all horribly racist.
  • While a couple of the murders don't seem too difficult to pull off, several of them seem highly suspect. For example, slipping poison into a person's glass and being sure both that they would drink it and none of the nine other people in the room with you would notice, is difficult, but doable. However, being able to convince someone to walk down a specific path at a specific time, and also being able to accurately drop a statue on them, would be much harder. Convincing a stranger to help you fake your death and convincingly lie to everyone else would be harder still, and persuading a person to hang themself, without ever even talking to them, would be near-impossible. Doing this ten times in a row without without ever being caught is totally unbelievable.

Media

Links

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