Eight people are invited to an island for a visit. But the hosts have not arrived, only two servants are present to welcome the guests and look after them. These ten people are completely cut off from the mainland due to a storm. And one by one they start dying- murdered in the way the boys are eliminated in the old nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians”. “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...”
And Then There Were None was published in 1939. Agatha Christie started writing during the First World War. She worked for the Red Cross and her war-time experiences left a clear mark on all her works. The literature of the period between the two world wars is characterised by despondency and disillusionment. But Christie gave her readers a route to escape the depression with the most intricate puzzles, ingenious plots and spine-chilling thrillers.
The story is narrated by an omniscient narrator. The language is as lucid and charming as the best of Agatha Christie. Christie creates an almost unbearable suspense, and the climax is nothing short of shocking. The solution, when it comes, is a challenge in its audacity.
It is rather difficult to write about a thriller without giving away important plot points. I can only say that I am confident that every new reader will enjoy this book as much as I have. Agatha Christie had a genius for creating the right atmosphere, and in most cases the atmosphere is very cosy, peaceful, intellectually stimulating. Violence, though present, is usually given a low-key treatment. Her works are suitable for every age group. And Then There Were None is very different from Christie’s usual style. It is darker, more violent and presents a moral ambiguity that is usually absent in Christie’s works. Generally a reader is not allowed to engage or identify with a character who is to be the victim of murder- the person who dies is either unpleasant or forgettable. Bereavement and mourning, guilt and repentance are not dwelt upon. The focus is on the dispassionate calculations, the clear-sighted logic of the detective. The psyche of the murderer is dissected with a good deal of cheerfulness and a sense of triumph. The agony of loss, the pangs of conscience are not communicated to the readers. But And Then There Were None does not have any detective. We are asked to give up the comfort of being on the ‘good side’ and enter a grey area. The novel demands a very intense engagement from the reader- and becomes an unforgettable experience.
Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...