Agatha Christie was not verbose, and And Then There Were None may well be one of her most spare, yet it may also be one of her most compelling. The novel is relentlessly paced and unsentimental, as it hurdles from one disaster to the next.
Tick, tick, tick, and another one bites the dust.
However, the novel is not just a murder mystery, although it certainly is that (and one that keeps you guessing until the end), it’s a meditation on guilt. Each of the 10 people brought to the island has a hidden, murderous past. Or so it seems. Are the events on Soldier Island an absurd form of justice? Or is someone using past accidents as an excuse to revel in their own insanity? The casual discovery of nearly everyone’s misdeeds is one of the highlights of the novel, often revealing why they act and react the way they do. They provide the motive and misdirection needed to keep the pages turning on what is essentially the bland, systematic murder of an entire cast of characters. It’s effective, creating the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale. It would not be out of place for Christie to have written “one dark and stormy night on a lonely island, the victims meet their fate…”
Make no mistake, the premise is ludicrous and the writing plain, but it’s a masterful page turner nonetheless.
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