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26 November 2010

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie


I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but I will now.  I have never actually read an Agatha Christie novel until this week.  There.  I've said it.  And now I don't know which one I should read next.

I decided to pick one up because of Tales from the Reading Room's review of the non-fiction book Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days, by Jared Cade.  I was so caught up in her review of this true story of Agatha Christie actually disappearing without a trace for that period of time -- her car found the next morning after an argument with her husband, abandoned with the lights still on.  Once found after eleven days, Christie's family claimed she had memory loss.  I found this story so interesting and am curious to read what the author uncovered during those eleven days, but I felt it just wouldn't be right to read the non-fiction insight into Christie's life without first reading her stories.

So I picked And Then There Were None.  Ten unsuspecting individuals are lured to a beautiful home on Soldier Island, a place only accessible by boat.  They come from a variety of backgrounds, ages, genders, and social class.  There's nothing consistent at all about the group that is invited to the island, it seems.

One young woman is hired as a temporary secretary, an older couple is hired to prepare the beds, cook and serve the food, another is a former military man expecting to see old buddies from the war, there is a judge, a doctor, and more...such an indistinct cast rounds out the party.  But they soon find there actually is one common trait between them all.  Murder.  No one's ever been charged or served time, but somewhere along the way, their very dirty secrets have been found out.  And then one by one, they are killed.  One need only read the children's rhyme framed and posted in their rooms facing the sea in order to know what will next happen to one of their group.

It's such a quick read, one sitting only.  One unsettling page of murder after another -- but who could the murderer be?  Could it be someone hiding on the island or in the house?  Or could it be one of them?

"Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine..."

This is what I find unsettling.  Being in the company of strangers and knowing that murder is upon you, but knowing from whom and how it will come is a mystery.  You are only guided by a sing-songy children's rhyme posted in your room.  Who you think you can trust, you can't.  Creepy, right?  It's really a very interesting exposé into how a breakdown happens.  Breakdowns in trust with each other and in yourself.  The confidence one has in being logical is then lost and watching it splinter away can be a bit frightening.

Agatha Christie writes easily and effortlessly, and while it's a fairly simply told story, I had no idea who the killer could be.  And the ending was beyond disturbing, I felt.  And I can't wait to read more Agatha Christie soon -- is there one you recommend I should pick next?

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick

36 comments:

  1. I've never read an Agatha Christie novel, but know I really should. Great review!

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  2. I just read my firest Christie earlier this year. Dr. Who did an episode about Christie's missing time and it was quite good. Tennent was the Doctor so it was maube two seasons ago.

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  3. Murder on the Orient Express is good and so is What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (hope that name is right...typing from memory). But, then, most of Christie's are. If you find yourself on a vintage mystery jag, you might consider joining me on my Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge...see my blog if you're intrigued.

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  4. Oh my oh my, I've read them all.
    Began when I was a kid. Well, it's never too late! :)
    I recommend A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED as your second read. (Only because it's one of my favorites.) I also love:
    THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT
    THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD
    THE ABC MURDERS
    PALE HORSE
    POIROT LOSES A CLIENT
    ...and well, too many more to list.
    It's never too late to read Christie, so, welcome to the fold.

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  5. Oh, forgot DEATH ON THE NILE and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, of course! Hmmm, vintage mystery challenge, Bev, that sounds good.

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  6. I am currently reading my first Agatha Christie novel right now! 'Cat Among the Pigeons'... I am enjoying it thus far (I am about half way through).

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  7. Oh, I have the same secret shame as you! And yet I've never heard anything but good things about her. Maybe I'll make reading her a New Year's resolution!

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  8. This is my favorite Agatha Christie book. I re-read it earlier this year and found it to be just as creepy as when I had read it in high school, for all the reasons that you mention.

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  9. My son just started this one! He is a reluctant reader, but this type of thing really tripped his trigger. I am hoping I can snatch it up before it has to go back to the library! I will definitely share your review with him!

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  10. You shame is my shame, too.. no Christie here either. I'm with Jill in thinking I need to add her to my New Years Resolutions. Sounds like I should start with this one.

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  11. My husband is an Agatha Christie nut. I've only read this one, and he recommended I read Murder on the Orient Express next. I'm hoping to get to it in the next month or so!

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  12. I read this one back in high school and I remember loving it. I've also read Murder on the Orient Express and it's quite good too. It might be fun to read Orient Express and then watch the movie, which has a great cast of talented actors.

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  13. Man in a Brown Suit is the first one I ever read, so it's got a special place in my heart, but I don't know that it's the best one. Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd are both very good, if you haven't already been spoiled as to their endings. I quite liked The Mirror Crack'd and The Moving Finger, also. It kind of depends on whether you end up being a Poirot person or a Marple person (I like Poirot best).

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  14. I just started at the beginning and am reading that way! Sorry I'm no help, but I'm glad you read Christie and love her!

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  15. I have an award for you! It's another vote for you as a Versatile Blogger You'll find the mention here: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2010/11/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  16. That's funny, I've never read anything by Agatha Christie, but I'm actually much more inclined by that non-fiction book about her disappearance!

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  17. And Then There Were None is one of my favorite books. You should see the old black and white movie with Barry Fitzgerald :) As far as other Christie novels, I've read Murder at the Vicarage and really loved it. I've heard a lot of great things about Murder on the Orient Express, as well as the ABC Murders. I haven't picked up an Agatha Christie book in ages and now I really want to again :)

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  18. Can you believe that I read this book, but do not remember the details, except for who did it? I want to forget and reread it someday. I also like the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

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  19. Can you believe that I read this book, but do not remember the details, except for who did it? I want to forget and reread it someday. I also like the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

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  20. I think I've read this book, only under the title 'Ten Little Indians' - is that possible? It's also a movie filmed in the 1960s I think by the same name. I swear exact same plot. They maybe changed the name because they thought it wasnt very PC or something any more?...At any rate it was great and I loved the suspense of it. Makes me want to re-watch the movie.

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  21. I have never read anything by Christie either, so don't feel bad. Your review of this book was beyond intriguing and now I am going to have to read this one. Excellent review! You told me just enough to get me hooked, and not a drop more!

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  22. I hadn't read Agatha Christie until a few years ago and I consider myself a big mystery fan! ha.

    I found that her books aren't all as cozy as I expected them to be. Anyway I haven't read that many but I do recommend The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Very good!

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  23. I grew up with my mom and sister reading Agatha Christie novels every summer. They read all of her books and they are still on the bookshelf at my parent's camp. I've picked up a couple and enjoyed the movies as well - my favorites are also Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. But if you ask my mom or sister, they will tell you to read them all!

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  24. This was my first Christie too! Back in the late spring for the Classics Circuit. I picked it because supposedly it was the inspiration for the movie Clue, which I could definitely see.

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  25. I haven't read anything by Agatha Christie either, and now I can't fathom why.

    I had no idea of her history. Wow.

    Very intriguing if not chilling review.

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  26. I just read my first Christie recently, too. I read One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, which was a fun Poirot mystery that definitely kept me guessing. However it wasn't nearly as creepy as And Then There Were None sounds!

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  27. This was my first Christie too! I loved every secret of it.

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  28. I don't think you not having read Agatha Christie is as embarassing as my never having read Jane Austen until earlier this year! : )

    And I do find Agatha's story pretty intriguing. What did happen during those 11 days?

    I remember reading this book when I was a teenager and getting scared ... a large part of it was the children's rhyme part of it.

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  29. Oooo I love AC. Have you read Evil Under the Sun?

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  30. I do love Agatha Christie and this is one of her best. I love all of them, but Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd are probably two I would suggest.

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  31. I'm biased towards Miss Marple, so I'd suggest you pick up either the first of those (Murder at the Vicarage) next. ;) But in case you're in a Poirot mood, my favourites of his are Murder on the Nile and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

    Christie's life is so interesting, isn't it?! I hadn't heard of that nonfiction book, but I'm off to go check it out.

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  32. This is my absolute favourite Agatha Christie book! Another one I loved was the first one I ever read - 4.50 from Paddington. Also, Halloween Party is great. Oh, I'm just going to tell you to read them all! ;)

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  33. There are so many to choose from it is hard to know which one to read next!

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  34. I have this in my TBR, got to read this next.

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  35. Simple and sweet. I’m thinking of starting another blog or five pretty soon, and I’ll definitely consider this theme. Keep ‘em coming!

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  36. Thank you all so much for visiting! I'm excited to pick up my next Christie book for the wintertime -- isn't that the perfect time to read these sorts of books?

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