I don’t know if I’ll go to mystery reader Hell for saying this, but I am not a huge fan of Agatha Christie. For the longest time I didn’t like any of her books. I did feel bad about it. I mean, she is the grande dame of mysteries (and an official Dame, too). How could I not love her books? I figured there was something wrong with me and I should just give up.
However, I love to read the classics and I am a glutton for punishment so I tried reading one more Agatha Christie novel. I chose Murder on the Orient Express…and I loved it. Then I read Murder in Mesopotamia… and I loved it. Then I read Hallowe’en Party…and I loved it. I figured out I didn’t hate Agatha Christie. I just really didn’t like Miss Marple stories and those were the ones I kept picking up at first.
I had always heard of the movie Ten Little Indians. When I wanted to write a variation on that plot I picked up And Then There Were None, the book that the movie is based on. It was then that I knew what my favorite Agatha Christie novel was. I will probably read others, for better or for worse, but the one I will read more than once is And Then There Were None, a twisty, turny story with a wonderful trick ending.
Who is Agatha Christie?
Dame Agatha Christie is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her books have sold over 2 billion copies and have been translated into 103 languages. Quite remarkable. Along with her 66 mystery novels she wrote short stories, romances, and the world’s-longest running play, Mousetrap.
In 1955 she was the first recipient of the Grand Master Award, the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor. In 1971 she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II. She continued to write into her 70s and died in 1976 at age 85.
Agatha Christie’s life story could be made into a movie all its own. She traveled extensively with her second husband and took on work during both World Wars. She even had her own mystery disappearance that has never been fully explained. She was a mystery writer with a mystery. I cannot possibly write down everything that happened in her life but I encourage you to read more about her.
Why do I love this book?
I love the idea of a group of people, strangers to each other but not to their host, stuck in one location and helpless as a murderer kills them one by one. Okay, that is probably weird, but it is one of my favorite plots. In And Then There Were None a group of people are invited to an island for a weekend party. From the start they sense that something is wrong but with a storm coming in and no boat available they have no choice but to stay and accept their fate. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, however, the title might be the biggest spoiler.
The title is the last line of a poem that Agatha Christie used as her inspiration. Ten Little Indians, while never the title of the book in the United States, was used as the title of some of the movie versions. I personally like And Then There Were None much better since the story has nothing to do with Indians except for the poem.
And Then There Were None is Agatha Christie’s top best-selling novel with over 100 million copies sold also making it the best-selling mystery ever sold. I guess I am not the only one who likes it.
No book is perfect. This is what bugs me…
This is a minor thing and probably not worth mentioning, but here I go. Why are Agatha Christie movies so dated? Some of them are okay but when I watch them again I am distracted by the outdated clothes and hair styles. The books have a timelessness to them but unless each generation makes their own cinema version the movies end up on a dusty library shelf. Of course the storylines have been used in hundreds of crime TV shows, but I would love to see a version of And Then There Were None that is as fresh twenty years from now as it would be today.
Why should you read this book?
There is something special about classic mysteries. They can be dull as dirt or full of intrigue, but they still have that bygone feeling that modern mysteries, even historic ones, can never recreate. I would never encourage anyone to read all of Dame Christie’s work, but if you have to pick just one I would pick And Then There Were None. Once you know the ending be sure to tell no one. It will be our little secret.
A Quote Worth Quoting
“The amount of missing girls I’ve had to trace and their family and their friends always say the same thing. ‘She was a bright and affectionate disposition and had no men friends’. That’s never true. It’s unnatural. Girls ought to have men friends. If not, then there’s something wrong about them….” ― Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None