I recently found myself with a long drive coming up and–no audiobook to hand! So naturally I snatched up And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser–a narrator I’ve encountered with Christie before, and already on the shelf at my local library.
Even though I wasn’t thinking about the R.I.P. Challenge, I think my subconscious must have been at work–and since this fits the challenge and I listened to it at the right time, I’m counting it!
The story opens with ten people, unconnected to each other, all summoned by various means and reasons to visit a deserted island. The eight guests and two servants are at the house on the island, but their host is unaccountably absent–and at dinner, a gramophone record plays with a chilling message. Each individual is accused of being responsible for someone’s murder. And then one by one, by different means and methods, people on the island begin to die. The murderer must be among those who remain–but who?
Apart from Murder on the Orient Express, I think this is Christie’s most famous novel. For that reason I’m glad I “read” it, although it was not my favorite Christie–which is a personal preference that others may not agree with!
Based on the experience of three Christie novels and a lot of short stories, this was definitely the darkest Christie I’ve encountered yet. I didn’t realize quite how much I appreciated the light moments of some of her others until I came to one without them! The whole point, of course, is that anyone could be the murderer, which is a fascinating premise…but also leaves the reader with no protagonist to ride along with. Poirot may be surrounded by potential murderers, but you always know that Poirot at least is all right (and likely to make a comic reference every now and then). In this novel, the reader is in much the same position as the characters–trapped on an island with a murderer, and unable to trust anyone.
The lack of a protagonist is all the more challenging because, well, it becomes pretty quickly apparent that the chilling gramophone record knows of what it speaks.
Christie is admittedly masterful at creating an escalating nightmare of a situation, as the body count rises and the tension rises with it. So if you like dark mysteries, this could well be your favorite Christie novel, even if it was a shade too bleak for me.
It is a very clever puzzle, essentially a locked door murder mystery. The title promises that no one will survive–but then who can be the murderer? Christie manages an answer in the epilogue, and while it does work, I feel a little cheated. Of course she has to withhold some information to keep the mystery going, but I kind of feel like she withheld crucial details to an extent that it becomes, well, cheating! I’m very curious to hear from anyone else who’s read the novel how they felt about that…
So this is a little bit of an odd one, in that it was a good novel that didn’t quite work for me but you might love–and even I’m feeling curious to watch the movie!
Author’s Site: http://www.agathachristie.com/
Buy it here: And Then There Were None