Nicole Tracy | Literary Columnist
In the novel And Then
There Were None by Agatha
Christie, the story opens up
by introducing 10 characters.
These characters are perfect
strangers. They do not know
each other at all, but are for
some reason invited to Indian Island off the coast of Devon.
The guests are invited by an unknown couple named
Owens who are said to be millionaires and own the island.
Each character is invited for a different reason through a letter
from this mysterious couple. Once the characters reach
the island, they are welcomed into a fancy house where they
will be staying.
After having a great dinner, the guests are gathered into
the drawing room, where they hear a voice recording accusing
each guest of a past murder that was never uncovered.
The guests are startled and frightened by this recording
because it reveals the horrific pasts of each of them. Each
guest from their party has never seen these so-called Owens,
and they realize that they were not there by means of
Strange things start to take place on the island after one
of the guests chokes to death, which is exactly how an old
nursery rhyme that each of the guests receives is written.
One by one the guests of the island start to die with the
cause and murderer unidentified, where each murder goes
along with this disturbing nursery rhyme. With no one on
the island except for themselves, the guests conclude that
the murderer must be on of them.
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. 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?
In typical Christie style, the characters are very well
written, and quite convincing. The story’s pace is perfect.
Agatha Christie is the master of creating a suspenseful and
sinister atmosphere throughout an entire novel. From the
very first chapter to the very last of And Then There Were
None, the author keeps the reader on their toes, encouraging
them to create their own theories only to completely crush
that theory by the next sentence.
And Then There Were None is a compelling introduction
to the mystery genre as a whole, as well as a novel that
constantly keeps one on edge. It’s clever, gripping, and has
a wonderful surprise that one never sees coming.
If one like mysteries, this could well become a favorite
story. If one has never read an Agatha Christie novel, make
this one the first. It is completely worth the time one will
spend reading it.
And Then There Were None is available at the Howard
County Public Library. Copies are limited, so if it is unavailable,
ask to be put on the waiting list for it at the front desk.