Ten strangers are called to a house on a secluded island, invited by a person they’ve never met. When the first death comes right after dinner, the other guests start to realize they’re all being murdered, one by one.
- Stylistically, it’s much more interesting than I remembered from reading it in high school. The narration jumps around freely from person to person, switching between inner monologues and dialogues, so it never feels quite like a novel but not a screenplay, either. It’s more like someone telling a story to you in person, and they can’t wait to get to the next part.
- It’s been decades since I last read it, and almost a century since it was written, and surprisingly little of it feels dated (now that they’ve changed the awful original title and framing nursery rhyme, two times over).
- My copy has an author’s note taken from Agatha Christie’s autobiography, in which she essentially says that she wrote And Then There Were None mostly to prove that she could do it. Which is unquestionably a baller move.
- The setup is so intriguing that it’s easy to see why it inspired countless homages and outright rip-offs.
- I liked the structure at the end, of having a chapter of recap and then an epilogue laying out the entire mystery. It invites the player to be completely engrossed in the mindset of the characters while the mystery is still happening, and then go back and reconsider the clues after the events have finished.
- The epilogue wasn’t strictly necessary, and just felt more like Christie justifying how she’d plotted the whole thing.
- I kind of call foul on it as a whodunnit, since the clues were pretty weak. I can understand Neil Simon’s frustration when he calls out detective novel writers in Murder By Death for making clues too obtuse or pulling plot developments out of thin air.
It’s an intriguing concept, told in a really engaging way. You can totally see why it’s become such a classic. I’m not convinced that it’s that great as a murder mystery, but if you instead read it as a horror story, it almost feels contemporary.