And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

and_then_there_were_none_agatha_chrisiteAgatha Christie is known as “The Queen of Mystery”. She was a prolific writer famous for her crime mysteries. And then there were none is one of her crowning achievements.

This book takes place on Solider Island located near Devon, England. Ten strangers are brought together under false pretenses varying from a new employment opportunity to a free holiday with friends. One by one, people begin mysteriously dying, and it becomes a classic case of “whodunit.”

Originally, the book was titled Ten Little Niggers based off of an initial poem that really sets the tone for the book and the book took place on Nigger Island. This was found to be too offensive, and then changed to Ten Little Indians and Indian Island. After that was also found to be offensive, the title of the book was finally changed to And then there were none based on the last line of the poem.

Here’s what I liked:

  • This is the kind of book you re-read multiple times. You’ll find something new upon each read.
  • There’s a lot of grey within each character. Sure, each character has certain likable qualities which will draw you to them but there’s also a lot of negative qualities which will set-up the suspense throughout the story.
  • The stakes are high. It’s literally life and death for these characters. I cared about what was happening to these characters, and I desperately wanted to know the identity of the murderer.
  • I didn’t see the plot twists coming. Solving the mystery was really hard but I enjoyed that.
  • This was a short and sweet read. One of my pet peeves is books that just go on and on like the energizer bunny without anything happening. This was not an issue here as Christie crafts every word thoughtfully and with purpose.

Here’s what I didn’t like:  Here’s what I’m nitpicking:

  • If you’re someone who has to be able to guess who the murderer is in a story, you’re going to be disappointed and perhaps even feel a little short changed. Christie’s goal is to keep you on your toes so she’ll throw a lot of plot twists, red herrings, and purposefully withhold information from you. It’s possible you can guess who did it, but it’s not likely.
  • This book is first and foremost a murder mystery. The emphasis is on the plot, not the characters. Often, this is a deal breaker for me because the story will end up feeling contrived. I think Christie did enough character work to tell a great story but nothing more. I really don’t think this was a problem in the story. In fact, I think this aspect is somewhat of a staple of murder mysteries.

You should read it if:

  • You like a good mystery. You like to be surprised and kept on the edge of your seat.
  • You want to read a well written book. Christie is a master at her craft and the execution of this novel proves it.

You shouldn’t read it if:

  • You want to fall deeply in love with the characters. These characters all developed just enough to tell the story and push the plot forward. They all operate in varying shades of grey morality so it’s hard to truly fall in love with any of them. And that’s the point.  Everyone is a suspect.

My final verdict:

I loved this book. It’s an example of great storytelling, and it has rightfully earned its place as a masterpiece. I’m not kidding when I said I was nitpicking at this book because to me to was really well done.

4.25 stars out of 5 (because nothing is perfect), highly recommend