Book Review: And Then There Were None
Written by the award winning “queen of mystery”, Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None is her second bestselling book, just behind the legendary classic, Murder on the Orient Express. The original title of the book(Ten Little Indians) was changed in the U.S because it was offensive to many people.
The main conflict in ‘And then there were none’ is that a mysterious, anonymous man gathers 10 different strangers to the Soldier Island for either work or leisure. Among the 10 diverse characters there is a serial killer which is killing them one by one to punish them for their past crimes. The conflict is external because it involves more than one person as they are all battling to save their own lives, man v.s. Man.
The symbol that I believe best represents the whole theme of the book is a revolver. The reason why a revolver represents the book so well is because the revolver was the most common means of self defence back in the day. Everyone would carry one when they walked into a bar or any other place. This self defence/ self preservation is present all throughout the book because each one of the characters is alert and ready to protect themselves from each other and the killer. Nobody around them is what they seem…
This story is set in a remote island whose whereabouts aren’t revealed. Everyone is talking about Soldier Island. The owner and builder of a lavish home on the private island has recently died, and newspaper articles contain speculation about a mystery buyer. Ten strangers from diverse backgrounds receive invitations to visit Soldier Island, most of which are signed by Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen. The recipients don’t recognize their hosts’ names but attend nonetheless. Soldier Island is not the friendliest place in the world, they are cut off from the main land and are left to the whims of their hosts. The timeline of the story takes place in 1939, in a time where ww2 has just begun.
Something all the characters have in common that some people may find interesting is that every single one of the characters has committed a crime and has avoided legal punishment.
A religious woman certain of her own righteousness, she is convinced also of everyone else’s sinfulness. Long before coming to the island, Emily Brent fired and kicked out of her house a woman named Beatrice Taylor because Beatrics had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Beatrice, in despair, subsequently killed herself. Brent never consciously feels any remorse (though there are hints that subconsciously she may) and she therefore feels confident that she will not be killed.
William Blore is one of eight guests invited to soldier Island by a mysterious host. Blore is a detective by trade, and the letter inviting him to the island claimed to require his help observing the other guests. William Blore takes his job seriously. In fact, the very first time we meet him, he is taking notes, presumably about the other guests. His crime was falsifying testimony in court that led to an innocent man’s death.
Phillip Lombard was hired by to come to Soldier Island and watch out for any trouble. He is a very resourceful and creative man who used to be a soldier in Africa. While in Africa he left a group of natives to die in order to save his own life. He is very clever and is able to escape death in tight situations
A recently retired Judge who quickly re-assumes this role on the island, holding impromptu ‘court cases’ after nearly every murder. He is obsessed with justice and he appears to be slightly off his rocker. His crime was sentencing an innocent man to death with full knowledge he was innocent, purely because of the reason that he was black.
A schoolteacher who is invited to Soldier Island as a secretary. She is very practical and careful, but she is also a romantic. She fell in love with a man named Hugo while she was employed as a nanny for a young boy, Cyril Hamilton. Cyril’s birth took away Hugo’s chance at an inheritance and Hugo told Vera at one point that he would marry her if he still had money. Vera therefore allowed Cyril to swim out into the ocean too far and drown. She was not convicted because she swam out after him as if she were trying to save him. Yet Hugo knew the truth, so he went away and never spoke to Vera again.
A successful doctor who comes to Soldier Island because he is told that Ms. Owen is sick. He used to drink too much and once accidentally killed an old woman because he was drunk while operating on her. He is very preoccupied with maintaining his reputation, and hence his success. At the same time, he is also a very gullible man.
The butler on Soldier Island, Mr. Rogers is a dedicated and professional servant. He always brings the drinks and food on time and is always polite and deferential. Yet he killed an old woman he used to work for, Jennifer Brady, by not administering her medicine so he could receive the money that Mrs. Brady had left to him and in his wife in her will.
Mr. Rogers’s wife, Ethel cooks all the meals on the island and does the housekeeping. Vera notices from the very beginning that Ethel looks constantly frightened and this seems to relate to her sense of guilt
A general in World War I, he is the oldest guest on the island and is suspected of intentionally sending a lieutenant, Arthur Richmond, to his death. Macarthur did this when he learned that Richmond was having an affair with his wife. Macarthur’s guilty conscience has always left him with the feeling that his fellow veterans know about his dark past and he separated himself from his Army friends after the war ended. His wife also died soon after the war and he has been lonely and weary since then. Once he gets to Soldier Island, he realizes that he is tired of life and the effort that it takes to live with his secret, and is ready to die.
Anthony Marston is a man of an all-pleasure life. He believes in relaxing and being care-free. His whole life, he’s lived off of his dad’s money and never had a worry. He’s for sure a womanizer. All the Ladies love Marston. His shocking blue eyes and god like appearance along with his bad boy attitude leads him to believe he can have any lady he pleases. But upon one day of November, his joy ride during the day turned into the gruesome murder of two young children. Of course he got away with it, it was only an accident, and that is what bought him a ticket later to join the group heading to Soldier Island.
A boatman ferries the guests to Soldier Island from the mainland. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are already present, having been hired by Mr. Owen to run the household. As the other guests settle into their rooms, they question Mr. and Mrs. Rogers about the mysterious host and hostess.
The Rogers admit they only arrived a few days earlier and have never met the Owen family. The guests comment on the strange poem hanging in each of their rooms. It’s a child’s rhyme about 10 little soldier boys who die one by one.
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 traveling 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 bumblebee 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 playing with a gun; One shot the other and then there was One. One little Soldier boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
The company assembles in a room after dinner. Their conversations halt when an ominous, disembodied voice accuses each of them, one by one, of a past crimes. Anthony Marston, a fast-driving playboy, is charged with a hit and run involving two children. The voice accuses Mr. and Mrs. Rogers of withholding medicine from a former employer and hastening her death. General MacArthur, a retired World War I hero, is reproached for the murder of his wife’s lover. Judgmental, elderly spinster Emily Brent is implicated in the suicide of a single, pregnant employee. Dr. Armstrong is accused of being drunk and losing a patient on the operating table. Detective and former police inspector William Blore is charged with falsifying testimony in court. This led to the death of an innocent man. Philip Lombard, down to his last dime, has come to Soldier Island to perform a yet unspecified job. He once stole food from and abandoned some African tribesmen serving as his guides. The voice charges him with their deaths. Vera Claythorne has accepted a temporary secretarial position with the Owens family. The young woman allegedly allowed a little boy to drown so his uncle, her beloved, could inherit the family fortune. Retired Justice Wargrave supposedly sentenced an innocent man to death.
The accusations leave the guests shocked. They confess little to one another, but the reader learns the charges against each of them are true. The guests discover the accusations were prerecorded and played on a phonograph in the next room. They wonder who set the record player in motion, since they believe they are the only ones on the island.
Shortly after this incident, guests begin dying. A tray in one of the rooms displays 10 soldier figurines. One disappears each time someone dies. Each person perishes in the manner and order of a soldier boy in the poem. Anthony Marton dies first from cyanide in his wine. Mrs. Rogers dies from overdose on sleeping pills. General Macarthur dies from being hit on the head with something hard.
After the first few guests have been killed, the remaining ones begin to panic. They’re more concerned when they realize the boatman, their one link from the island to the mainland, isn’t coming. They determine U.N. Owen is a fake name the killer used because it sounds like “unknown.”
When they’re certain there is no one else on the island, they start to become suspicious of one another. They watch each other carefully, form alliances, search each other’s rooms and lock away all weapons and medications. Their efforts are futile. Soon, the final guest has hanged herself/himself with a noose left by the killer.
When the boatman arrives back at the island a week or so later, he discovers 10 dead bodies. The police are perplexed. There seemed to be no signs of another unknown person on the island so one of them had to be the killer. But all 10 were dead so how could that be? If you really want to find out which one of the guests were the murderer and how they pulled off the scheme, you should read the book.
I would give the novel a 4.5 out of 5 star rating because this book has such a unique plot that would not be found anywhere else. The author is very descriptive and mysterious in her writing, you make assumptions but then she proves you wrong and she completely changes your mind about who the killer is. I enjoyed following along with the plot and trying to find out the killer along with the characters. In other words, I was completely absorbed into this grisly fiction world. It really is what book reviewers would call a page turner.“And Then There Were None” was a pleasure (if that’s the right term for a book that scares me as much as ATTWN does) when I read it. There’s more going on, the characters are well-drawn and when you get down to the last character, I find it very eerie and frightening. The reveal, when you find out who was behind all of it, is almost secondary to the plot. I would recommend this book to middle schoolers and all above that reading level. The reason why is because the language is very easy to understand. They don’t really use fancy and extravagant words. The only words someone could have trouble with are the characters names. However, there are some parts that could be inappropriate for younger kids. Most to all of Agatha Christie books are mystery and murder. They keep the reader interested and wanting to keep reading. I would also recommend this book to someone into murder and mystery books. This book entertains readers and has the reader involved in the book. It keeps someone guessing and wanting to know more.
Who did it? Why’d they do it? How’d they do it? All of these questions will be answered in the book and their answers will surprise you. In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this book and after my presentation, I hope that you will too. That wraps up my book talk. I hope you enjoyed. Thank you for listening.