Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And Then There Were None

I found myself without a mystery to read the other night, so I checked my library's ebook catalog and found And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. It was on my Nook in a minute. What fun it was to fall into.

The premise: ten strangers are invited to spend time on an island by a mysterious - and absent - host. It turns out that each one has in some way caused the death of someone else. The doctor who was drunk and his patient died on the operating table; the judge who influenced the jury to condemn a man that perhaps was innocent; the nanny who let her charge drown; the caretaker couple who didn't do quite all they could do for the elderly woman they were hired to watch over. You get the idea.

One by one each is killed - in a method that matches the nursery rhyme that begins

Ten little soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there where Nine.

And ends with the line

And then there were None.

Ms. Christie has a ball developing the characters and killing them off. The denouement is quite extraordinary and I wouldn't spoil it for the world.

Wikipedia states that the story has had more adaptions that any other work of Ms. Christie's. The mystery has been filmed, acted on stage, televised, and broadcast on radio. It has even been turned into a video game and a graphic novel.

In her author's note, Ms. Christie writes that she wanted to do this story because it was so difficult and worked hard to think of a way to pull it off that wouldn't annoy or frustrate the reader. She did a fine job.

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