At some point in high school, And Then There Were None was mandatory reading in English class. As a fan of the Clue movie and The Westing Game, I was excited to read a murder mystery, and was determined to solve the case. I even kept notes on clues and characters, and I still wound up being completely surprised by the end. The whole reading experience was enjoyable and I still love finding books that keep me guessing until the end. Since it’s been about fourteen years since I last read the book I don’t remember what happens at all, except there are ten people on an island getting picked off one by one, so I’m excited to Reread this. I hope I don’t remember anything that happened so it’ll be like reading this for the first time all over again!
Teenage Rating: 5 out of 5 cold stiffs
Ten little soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Nine little soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were Eight.
Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.
Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.
Six little soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.
Five little soldier boys going in for law;
One got into chancery and then there were Four.
Four little soldier boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.
Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.
Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One little soldier boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself
And then there were None.
—Frank Green, 1869
This nursery rhyme sums up And Then There Were None, the story of ten strangers who travel to an estate on a remote island at the behest of a mysterious letter writer, U.N. Owen. The ten little soldiers in this story are:
- Rogers, the butler
- Rogers, the maid
- Justice Wargrave, a retired judge
- Vera Claythorne, a secretary
- Philip Lombard, a mercenary
- Miss Emily Brent, a Puritanical elderly woman
- General Macarthur, a retired war hero
- Armstrong, a doctor
- Tony Marston, a reckless young man
- Blore, a private investigator and former inspector
The mysterious invitations to Soldier Island intrigue the guests. The Island has been a fixture of gossip columns attributing ownership of the remote estate to various luminaries. Their excitement turns to horror when a recording begins to play during dinner accusing each guest of causing the deaths of different victims. All of the guests are shocked and outraged, denying the accusations against them. One guest is quickly poisoned and over the course of the next few days, the remaining guests begin to suspect each other as they’re picked off one by one, eerily echoing the “Ten Little Soldiers” poem posted in each of their rooms.
This mystery is a slow burn that keeps you nervously guessing. The poem serves as a sort of spoiler for the book. You know the guests will be killed one by one and can more or less tell how they’re going to meet their fates. Every chapter leaves you wondering who the next victim will be, and who exactly is behind it all. Are the guests right in thinking there’s a murderer in their midst, or is there someone else hiding on the island orchestrating everything? We see the guests confront their alleged crimes in their minds, either accepting their guilt or refusing to take any blame. You don’t feel bad for them as they’re murdered. However, at the end of the book the focus is less on the “whodunnit” aspect and more of an exploration of justice. Should vigilantes enact justice on criminals who escaped the law? Does the justice system do enough to keep dangerous people off the streets? Is passively contributing to the death of another the same as murdering them? By the end of the book you’re desperate for an explanation; don’t worry, you get one. Looking forward to reading more Christie in the future.
Adulthood Rating: 4 out of 5 soldier figurines
2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Categories: A Book That Takes Place on an Island, A Murder Mystery