As far as mysteries go, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is by far one of the best I have ever read. It has its setbacks, but the story is so addicting that I could not help but read it all in one sitting.
The story is about ten oddly different people invited to a mysterious 'Soldier Island,' lured by a common host under the pretenses of jobs, vacations, or meeting old friends. The said host is absent from the island on their arrival. Each person arrived has, in their past, directly or indirectly committed a murder that the law cannot get hold of. For each of them, the day of the judgment came when, upon reaching the island, they find no way to get out of it.
On the island, the pasts of these people resurface. They start getting murdered one-by-one, creepily in the order and manner of a nursery rhyme dictating the deaths of 10 soldier boys. The last line of the rhyme is also the title of the book. Previously, the book has had two different, more questionable titles, but they were changed for the sake of decency.
The book is an unsettling read. It excited my senses, and I was so jumpy in the midst of it that I had to be reassured of reality now and then. I especially loved the sub-plot revolving around the characters Vera and Philip. Their slightly distant friendship turned out in the way precisely as it really would have, which was a pleasant surprise for me.
The suspense is brilliant. The entire book kept me wondering what would happen next. If it would be worth the fame that the book has received. And I was not disappointed. Agatha Christie did an excellent job of revealing only what is required and only at a particular time. The entire story reveals nothing at all. The actual suspense is uncovered in the Epilogue after all the people have died, and it is one that would baffle and impress even the hardest of mystery-lovers.
The plot is full of unexpected twists, and the writing style is so gripping. Many times while reading, I felt like I was both a person captured by the pages of this book and one imprisoned among the people stranded on the island, waiting for the inevitable with bated breath. It was horrifying, but I wanted more.
But there were also a few downsides to the story. Firstly, there are obvious hints of classism and racism shown within its characters. However, we would probably get that when we read any of Agatha Christie's stories.
Secondly, I think some parts were unrealistic. For example, when the first person died, the others were so calm and composed regarding the death that it was unnatural. I believe this had stemmed from the notions of mannerism in the times when the book was written, but even then, following the rules of the society in those circumstances was a bit far fetched. Not only that, but the bodies of the dead people were also laid on their beds in their rooms instead of being disposed of. I found this weird, mainly because the other people were living in different places in the same house.
Apart from those, I found that the people's actions on the island were a bit too convenient for the murderer, especially when they aligned with the nursery rhyme. It became a bit hard to digest, at least for me.
However, the last and most significant downside to the story was a giant loophole in it. [SPOILER FROM HERE] It is shown in the way that the murderer dies by shooting himself on the same bed where his dead body was supposed to have been laid. However, doing so would stain his pillows with blood. It was aberrant to how the other people's chronicles dictated his death, which was in the living room from where he was brought up to the bed. The police would have noticed this and recognized the murderer. [SPOILER ENDS]
Despite all of these, I would give the book an honest 5/5 only because it is an excellent, goosebump-arousing read. Agatha Christie has displayed a brilliant mind by coming up with this outrageous, yet sensible plot. I would not reread it, it was far too creepy for that, but I would recommend everyone read it at least once.
By Soumya Mukhija
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Soumya Mukhija is a volunteer at Quillopia. The views expressed are her own.