When I love a book, I give myself some time to let my thoughts brew and write my review in a day or two. Sometimes, that becomes eventually or.. never. That is what had happened to those ‘favorite’ books and I never gotten around to write those amazing 5 star reviews. But here I am, finally attempting to talk about one of such books – Agatha Christie’s And then there were none.
About the book
Book Name: And then there were none
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Characters: Justice Lawrence John Wargrave, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, Philip Lombard, General John Gordon Macarthur, Dr Edward George Armstrong, Anthony James Marston, William Henry Blore, Mr Thomas Rogers, Mrs Ethel Rogers, Emily Caroline Brent, Isaac Morris, Fred Narracott.
Setting: Devon, England, The UK
Eight strangers are invited to a private island near the coast of Devon, England by an eccentric millionaire, Mr Owen. The guests are welcomed by a cook and a butler. But their host is nowhere to be seen and they realize none of them know him very well.
All they find is a framed copy of an old nursery rhyme that tells the tale of ten soldiers who leave, disappear or die until none of them are alive. Everyone is intrigued to find ten figurines depicting the ten soldiers in their dining room.
At dinner a voice accuses that everyone of them was guilty of murder and they will all be dead soon. Immediately one of them chokes on their drink and dies. And they realize one of the figurine is broken. Soon one by one each of the guests dies, following theme of the childhood rhyme.
Each of them starts suspecting the other, as they are all stranded in secluded island. Who is the murderer and who survives their stay forms the rest of the book ‘And then there were none’.
My initial thoughts
For me And then there were none would be one of the best mystery ever written. I read this for the first time when I was around 13 years old and it was not a surprise that I was not able to solve it.
Incidentally, I forgot about this book for about another five years until I gave it another read in my late teens. I still didn’t solve it but that’s when I realized how much I loved it. I keep reading it once in a while and it has never lost its charm on me.
And to make matter worse (or better) it has become a sort of benchmark to compare the other mystery novels and ‘whodunnits‘. There have been numerous adaptations based on And then there were none by Agatha Christie, and frankly none of them are closer to the book, IMHO.
Things that worked for me
- There are so many mini plots within the story that makes it hard to guess the murderer.
- The murders get more and more exciting as it follows an old rhyme and everyone has a theory that someone else’s involved.
- I liked the strong emphasis on ‘fair’ justice system, even if it meant eye for an eye. I understand it is a fantasy but it sounds so good.
Things that didn’t work for me
- I don’t think anyone could guess the murderer on their first read. I mean there are literally no clues.
- There are so many characters that you stop feeling related to them, in a while. There are, more or less, no descriptions for any of the characters.
- Unfortunately, There is a huge plot hole which is a part of the solution. But it is kinda easy to ignore it (at least it was for me).
- The book obviously feels dated but the casual racism and sexism might turn you off.
I consider And then there were none as a masterpiece and I am sure everyone would love it. I can’t recommend it enough. If you are going to read only one Christie’s in your life, choose And then there were none.
Let us chat
What is your favorite Agatha Christie novel? Have you read this one? Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple – who do you like better? Let us chat.
When we hear about Agatha Christie‘s books we immediately associate them with Monsieur Poirot or Miss Marple or the lesser known Tuppence. I was pleasantly surprised that none of these characters would be appearing in Crooked House. To be honest I had never heard of it, until one of my book blogger groups chose Crooked House as the read of the fortnight. Read ahead to know how this ‘whodunnit’ turned out for me.
Book Name: Crooked House
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Characters: Charles Hayward, Sophia, Brenda, Josephine, Aristide, Philip, Magda, Roger, Clemency, and Eustace Leonides, Laurence Brown, Edith de Haviland, Chief Inspector Taverner
Setting: London, The UK
Charles Hayward returns to England from European war with the hope to marry Sophia Leonides. His plans are spoiled when hears that her wealthy grandfather Aristide Leonides has been murdered, by his own family, no less. Sophia asks him to help her finding out the culprit and announces that she cannot marry him until this is solved. She also indicates that ‘it would be easier if it was the right person.’ His father, Assistant Commissioner of the Yard, gives his assent and encourages the idea.
The police suspect the young widow and the tutor while they plead innocence. As Charles gets closer to the family, he understands why Sophia mentioned their ‘ruthlessness.’ Alongwith Sophia’s sister Josephine, Charles tries to find out the real murderer, but not before another murder in the family. Find out who killed them. HINT: It is someone you will like a lot.
First off, it is DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE, so I don’t really have to say anything about her writing. She had me guessing who the killer was and kept me engrossed till the last page. Everytime Charles speaks to a member of the Leonides family, it was not only him that had to keep changing his theory but also the reader. And that is the power of Christie’s writing and the strength of her storyline.
I loved how apt the term ‘crooked’ fits to their house, the members and their characteristics. It ends kinda abruptly but it is not a bigdeal. It has been months since I read an Agatha Christie‘s, and Crooked House made me realize what I had been missing out. If you are in mood for a ‘whodunnit’ you can not go wrong with a Christie.
What do you do when you are on a fully paid vacation at the Caribbeans, especially if you are escaping the long, dreary, cold England weather? Swim a bit, enjoy the sun, meet the locales? Nah, if you are Miss Marple. You know Miss Marple don’tcha?
She is the elderly sleuth the local busybody of St Meads, England who is sent on a Caribbean vacation by her well meaning nephew. She is surrounded by interesting group of people consisting of old tycoons, bird watchers, secretaries and even masseurs. But all could not be that swell, can they? It so seemed, until the old Major Palgrove dies out of an innocent heart attack.
Book Name: A Caribbean Mystery
Series: Miss Marple #10
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Characters: Miss Jane Marple, Major Palgrove, Mr Rafiel, Colonel Edward and Mrs Evelyn Hillingdon, Gregory and Mrs Lucky Dyson
Miss Marple finds his sudden death very suspicious because just the day before he died the Major was telling her about a murderer in their presence. But of course, why would anyone believe a sweet, old lady’s imaginations? Things turn more ghastly when the body counts keep increasing and every one of the guests had something to hide from the other. Read more to find how Miss Marple solves the mystery, in her own style.
Very far from the bests of Agatha Christie, A Caribbean Mystery has a pleasant change of the ambiance from the cold England and the usual local bodies that Miss Marple talks about. Though it is a quick read and I normally like Christie’s book, this one was too plain to my liking. I had to stop at different places, despite the colorful characters. I did not even bother to try to guess the murderer.
As usual I loved the repartee of Miss Marple with one of the characters, here Mr Rafiel, an old business tycoon, who is simply rude and too blunt for anyone. Quite a contrast to our Miss Marple, who is genteel and soft spoken. Well, that is the only part of the story that kept me going, and unfortunately it was not long enough.
Bottom-line: Worth a quick read, if you like Miss Marple series.
I am attempting to re-read as many Agatha Christie’s as I can get my hands on. Read more here.
One cannot go wrong with an Agatha Christie, can they? Of all the projects that I have started and left midway, reading the entire Agatha Christie collection was the one that I almost came close to completing. Maybe I was near completing it only because I had started it during my school days and our library suddenly had replenished their book stock with lots of Christie’s. I have decided to re-read as many books of hers as possible this year and try and revive the reviewing habit. Of course, I would be continuing to read and review other books as well. So let us take our plunge, right away.
Book Name: 4:50 from Paddington
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Characters: Miss Jane Marple, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, Mrs Elspeth McGillicuddy, Luther Crackenthorpe, Emma, Alfred, Cedric and Harold Crackenthorpe
What would you do if you witness a murder that no one seems to believe about? Give up? Mrs Elspeth McGillicuddy doesn’t. On her return journey after her Christmas purchase by train the 4:50 from Paddington, she witnesses a man strangling a woman on the train that passes hers. She reaches to the concerned authorities but realises that no one is taking her word seriously. Lucky for her, she stays with her friend Miss Jane Marple, an old busybody who not just knows the right people to talk to, but also believes earnestly in her friend that she decides to solve the case on her own.
Miss Marple is ‘just the finest detective God ever made ‐ natural genius cultivated in a suitable soil’. She is handicapped by fragility due to her age, but she helps to solve cases for the Scotland Yard. So she doesn’t waste much of her time when she understands that her friend Mrs McGillicuddy was speaking the truth. But unfortunately for them, no body of a blonde woman turns up in the following days. When Mrs McGillicuddy leaves after her stay, Miss Marple takes it upon herself as a duty to find the body and the murderer.
Using the never-ending list of people who would love to help an old lady, she studies the route of the trains that pass through that particular station at the given time, and quickly zeroes in Rutherford Hall as the place where they could find the body. She sends in an efficient and thorough house help Miss Lucy Eyelesbarrow to Rutherford to discover the body. Unfortunately for them, they find out not just a body but a series of murder that may or not be connected to the first one related to the 4:50 from Paddington.
Things are never as they seem, particularly when there is a broken family with a large sum of money to be inherited when the father kicks off and every one of them has a lot to lose if that didn’t happen anytime sooner, concerned. The Crackenthorpe family consists of the old man Luther Crackenthorpe, his daughter Emma who stays in to take care of her apparently invalid father and their three sons Alfred, Cedric and Harold. Though the latter do not live at Rutherford, they do visit their father often.
Harold, a businessman and a prominent figure in the city, Alfred, the black sheep of the family and the one who is into shady deals and Cedric, the rebellious painter who lives in Ibiza, look like the man Mrs McGillicuddy saw from her train. Their widower son in law Bryan Eastley and his son Alexander would also benefit from the family inheritance. There are too many suspects and motives and far too fewer clues to continue, or so the police think but not long before Miss Marple solves the crimes, thanks to Mrs McGillicuddy’s return to the story once again.
The ending is entirely unexpected, as with most of the Agatha Christie’s. Miss Marple appears too little in the story, to my liking. In fact, she arrives only to stitch the bits and pieces of everyone’s part into a meaningful whodunnit. Lucy plays her stand-in for the most part of the story and does more than what is expected of her. There are funny parts that worked only for her like the one where all the Crackenthorpes men were trying to make some proposition to her.
Young ones have fun there, you know amidst murders and all. In fact the elders considered it even healthy for the kids to go look for clues about the murderer, and it goes as far as one of the elders is ready to prepare a fake clue just to keep them occupied. Maybe it was just the period they lived in, but the presence of these kids did liven up the book by a bit.
Though 4:50 from Paddington is definitely not my favorite Agatha Christie, it was a pleasure re-reading just for the childhood memories. The story ran too long and too slow in parts. The ending was unexpected, but it failed to make the reader wonder how he had missed the glaring clue at the end after it was solved.
I love whodunnits that make me feel that surprised that ‘oh the murderer was just among them, all along. How did I miss that?’ Well, 4:50 from Paddington did not do that. Oops, I have said enough, no more spoilers.
What do you think about Christie’s books? Who is your favorite fictional detectives and why? Let us chat.