Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And There Were NoneWhat’s it about?

‘Ten…’
Ten strangers are lured to an island mansion off the Devon coast. Over dinner, an unseen voice accuses each of them of harbouring a guilty secret, and by the end of the evening one of their number is dead.

‘Nine…’
Their host fails to appear, and as the weather changes the island becomes a sinister and claustrophobic place to be stranded.

‘Eight…’
Haunted by an ancient nursery rhyme, they all realise that the murderer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again.

‘Seven…’
The tension escalates as the survivors try to keep one step ahead of their ingenious stalker, who seems bent on reaching the final line –

‘And Then There Were None’

My thoughts

I chose to read this book because I love murder mysteries and because I had planned to see the play at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on 7th February. I was in a bit of a dilemma in whether to read the book before or after, and because I’m so impatient I read it before and I absolutely loved it.

The characters are all summonsed in one way or another to Soldier Island and at first I thought they must all have some connection to the island in the past but I got this bit wrong but they are all hiding some incident or indiscretion from their pasts which comes to light.

Each chapter is split into parts with each part being dedicated to one of the characters relating to that particular scene; I liked the way this is done. It gives an all round view of what’s going on and supposedly gives you an opportunity to pick up on the clues (not that I ever do!).

One of the characters notices a childhood rhyme and what follows are murders that are made to fit the rhyme.

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 into 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.

I love the way Christie manages to create sufficient drama and the tension without having to be overly descriptive and horrific – she’s brilliant in giving you enough information and letting your imagination do the horrible work. As I was reading and the characters are being taken out one by one I found myself flicking back to the rhyme to see anticipate what type of murder/death might be next until you get to the ending and the murderer hasn’t been revealed until you turn the page and read the epilogue – phew!

So I went to see the play on Saturday which I was ridiculously excited about and it was everything I had hoped it would be. It translated well to the stage with great acting by the likes of Paul Nicholas, Verity Rushworth, Mark Curry and Frazer Hines to name but a few, it was very atmospheric and I loved the art deco scenery. There were some name changes from the book which I never quite understand why they do that and the ending was different – I expect due to the constraints of staging, as much as I enjoyed seeing it brought to life, I preferred the book! (typical book lover response).

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13 Comments

  1. 9th February 2015 / 5:32 pm

    I read this ages ago and have been wanting to re read it because i loved it so much! Agatha Christie is seriously the queen of mystery.

  2. 2nd January 2016 / 1:22 pm

    What did you make of the BBC adaptation? I believe they changed the ending?
    Was it better than the stage version?

    • 2nd January 2016 / 1:53 pm

      I really enjoyed the BBC version; very dark and chilling. The ending was slightly different, in that the murderer doesn’t reveal himself, there’s an epilogue that kind of tidies it all up.
      I don’t know if it’s fair to compare stage with TV, what they do with the stage play with little background and props is very clever!

      • 2nd January 2016 / 2:31 pm

        I’d like to see a stage version. I wasn’t sure the BBC version needed to be 3 hours long – they padded it out with a lot of flashbacks. But the acting was superb. The only issue I had was casting Charles Dance – as soon as I see him in anything I think, “He must be the baddie!”

          • 4th January 2016 / 4:53 pm

            And the voice!! I feel like he should end every sentence with an evil “mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!” style laugh 🙂

  3. suzanna
    5th November 2016 / 3:34 pm

    Agatha Christie is always a good choice. I’d like to see it on stage though. And I love the cover.
    #TalkoftheTown

  4. 5th November 2016 / 5:11 pm

    Such a great book. Agatha Christie had a genius for suspense.

  5. 6th November 2016 / 3:56 pm

    I didn’t realise it was on BBC too Lindsay. Not sure I would have sat through 3 hours though …
    #TalkoftheTown

    • 6th November 2016 / 6:36 pm

      Oh but it was totally worth it! Especially if you’re an Aidan Turner of Poldark fan 😉

      • 6th November 2016 / 6:55 pm

        Hahaha. I loved Aiden in Being Human. So-so in first series of Poldark (have recorded the second and not got round to it yet!) 😀

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