And Then There Were None is one of the great masterworks of English crime fiction. Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time for the genre (more than two billion of her books sold to date) and this particular novel is considered one of her three best. (The other two are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and Murder on the Orient Express (1934).) Christie innovated the genre to such a degree that even now, 45 years after her death, no other author has come close to matching her accomplishments.
Whereas The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express, are both Hercule Poirot mysteries, And Then There Were None doesn’t feature a detective at all. It’s what’s known as a closed-circle mystery and has what is now a well-known and often-used plot line: ten strangers are isolated on an island and one by one they start to die. One of the ten is the murderer, but which one?
This concept for a murder mystery is so common now, that it’s easy to miss just how revolutionary it was when Christie’s book was published in 1939. No one had read anything like it.
If you’re a fan of crime fiction, from cozy cat mysteries to bloody thrillers, this is one book you must read. Even though it’s been around for 82 years, unless you’re an aficionado of this genre and have studied copycat versions of the plot, I bet you won’t guess whodunnit.
In true Christie fashion, the emphasis is on the puzzle. There’s no blood (although the body count is high) and there’s very little character development. This book is all about the plot; follow the clues, solve the riddle. You’ll need to read to the very end.
According to the Agatha Christie website this was her most challenging book to write, and I can easily believe it. They’re running a Read Christie challenge this year, so if you like And Then There Were None, you might want to sign up. I have!
When you’ve finished reading the book, email me and let me know if you correctly guessed who the murderer was. I most certainly did not. Although I did accurately guess who the last two standing would be.
The audiobook is narrated by Dan Stevens, who you’ll know as Matthew from Downton Abbey. Could it get any better?