I felt like I should have been drinking a cup of hot tea while listening to Bing Crosby as I read this novel. Top me off with a ’30s hairstyle and I’d be calling everyone “dahling.”
Agatha Christie published the world’s best-selling mystery novel in 1939. And Then There Were None tells the story of ten people who were lured onto Indian Island by a man named U. N. Owen.
Once all ten people were in the house on the island, the story picks up when Anthony Marston is poisoned. Suspicions didn’t begin to creep in until after the third murder, which resulted from a blow to the head. I don’t know about you guys, but if people started dropping like flies in a spooky, mysterious mansion, I’d be the first one yelling, “Y’all better hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wives, ‘cause they killin’ er’ybody up in here!”
I was worried about following along with ten characters and keeping their stories straight, but Christie managed to create compelling characters with fascinating background stories. Emily Brent, the ultra-religious spinster, should have had more spotlight in the story—and a spin-off too. She intrigued me the most. Emily fired her pregnant, unmarried maid who committed suicide right after. Emily was rigid, harsh, and probably twitchy. She made an excellent candidate as the murderer. But was it her?
While the nursery rhyme, Ten Little Indians, is the biggest plot theme, there’s another underlying theme: all ten people were complicit in the murders of other people. Dr. Armstrong was responsible for the death of his patient. Vera Claythorne was accused of killing a child. Philip Lombard had no remorse for killing several East African tribesmen. While each person had a different background story, there was always the same conclusion: no justice had been served for their actions.
What were they really doing on Indian Island?
It wasn’t until the last thirty pages that things really gripped my attention. Agatha Christie knows how to make you feel like you’ve figured everything out way ahead of time. Basically, she makes you feel like a genius for solving a murder mystery, then she comes out of nowhere and completely blows your mind and makes you question how you are even qualified to play the game Clue.
Do you think you can solve the mystery of Indian Island?
Ten little soldier boys
Each went out to dine; but, dahling,
One choked his little self
And then there were nine.