And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was my first Agatha Christie book. I have somehow gone 27 years of my life without reading a single line by her. What a page turner! I honestly couldn’t put it down. For the first time, I understood why Christie is considered one of the best mystery authors of all time. Not only was she prolific, but her mysteries are legitimately thrilling.
One fateful evening, ten people with seemingly no connection arrive on an island. As one by one, the guests start dying, it becomes clear that their mysteriously absent host knows more about them than they bargained for–and he will not rest until they are all dead.
This book is not just a mystery. At its heart, it is an examination of the human psyche–of why people do what they do. How selfishness can twist a person to commit an act he never thought possible. Christie slowly reveals each character’s secret with a mastery I have rarely seen in fiction. This is a mystery far less about fear than about people.
Despite many of the dark moments in the book, the details weren’t gratuitously grizzly–which is a trap many modern murder mysteries fall into. The tone was oddly matter of fact, which drew attention more to the characters than to the horror. Her use of the Ten Little Indians poem (the title of which as morphed over the years to be less racist, thank goodness) as foreshadowing was fantastically disturbing.
I was a little disappointed with the epilogue. Without giving too much away, it was a tell all that explained how everything had come to pass. I thought it would have been more effective to leave the story open ended rather than tying it up so neatly. After the confusion and hysteria of the rest of the book, the epilogue immediately dispelled the excitement of not knowing who or why with an explanation that was a little boring.
Despite that, I still highly recommend this book, particularly if you want a foray into what is considered Christie’s most complex work.