‘And Then There Were None’ Book Review


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Agatha Christie—the world-renowned author—is known for her immensely-successful novels. Also known as the queen of murder-mystery, Christie is celebrated for her works surrounding the investigations of the inquisitive Hercule Poirot. Some of her most famous works, including “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile,” have also been turned into major motion pictures. 

This past week, I read one of Christie’s books for the first time, and finished it in a matter of hours. Though I was once an avid fan of the film version of “Murder on the Orient Express,” I was unfamiliar with Christie’s writing style until now. 

“And Then There Were None” is, like your typical Agatha Christie book, a riveting story filled with murder, suspense, and plot-twists—exactly what every good thriller needs. The story follows a group of eight strangers from various backgrounds who are called to an isolated mansion on an island near Devon, England. Each eccentric character is asked to the island for a different reason, but none seem to particularly remember their host, who goes by the name of U.N. Owen. Regardless of the suspicious circumstances, each character accepts the invitation. After one ride on land, and one over the sea, the curious houseguests arrive on the island, only to realize that the host is nowhere to be found. With the addition of the maid and the butler of the estate, ten houseguests are left on the island, questioning the circumstances of their stay, unaware that they all share a fatal flaw.

Not long after their first dinner as a group, while the individuals are waiting for the appearance of their host, a recording suddenly starts to reverberate throughout the house. The disembodied voice announces the name of each houseguest, and lists the name of a person whose death they are responsible for. Such crimes included sentencing a man to death, letting a boy drown, and sending a wife’s lover to die—and the guests were never held accountable. In a state of shock, as well as automatically defensive about the statements made, the characters desperately seek explanations. 

Following the deaths of two of the houseguests in the span of 12 hours, the individuals realize they were not brought on the island with the purpose of enjoying their week or earning some money, but were instead brought to die. In their search for clues, the now-acquaintanced visitors realize their impending demise is based on a nursery rhyme that reads:

“Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; 

One choked his little self and then there were Nine

Nine little soldier boys sat up very late; 

One overslept himself and then there were Eight

Eight little soldier boys traveling in Devon;

One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks;

One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six

Six little soldier boys playing with a hive;

A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five

Five little soldier boys going in for law;

One got in Chancery and then there were Four

Four little soldier boys going out to sea;

A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three

Three little soldier boys walking in the zoo;

A big bear hugged one and then there were Two

Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun;

One got frizzled up and then there was One

One little soldier boy left all alone;

He went and hanged himself

And then there were None”

Despite futile attempts to uncover the killer that is hidden among them, the visitors cannot seem to escape, because their fate lies in the hands of another. And, one by one, following the immediate onset of paranoia, fear, and helplessness, the houseguests meet their end. 

“And Then There Were None” is a fast-paced, gripping horror/mystery novel that will leave you wanting more. Ending in a confession written by the sole perpetrator, U.N. Owen (“unknown”), this brilliant story succeeds at captivating the audience’s attention at every turn. It is a quick, but definite, must-read.