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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: Book Analysis

By DrainBamaged Dec 13, 2013 1333 Words
Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None
Book Analysis

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was a British crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmaccot. Agatha Christie is best known for her detective novels in which characters like Hercule Poire, Miss Jane Marple, Tommy and Tuppence investigate the most trickiest and mind-blowing cases of crime and murder. Almost all of Agatha Christie's books are whodunits, focusing on the British middle and upper classes. Usually, the detective either stumbles across the murder or is called upon by an old acquaintance, who is somehow involved. Gradually, the detective interrogates each suspect, examines the scene of the crime and makes a note of each clue, so readers can analyse it and be allowed a fair chance of solving the mystery themselves.

'And Then There Were None' is probably Agatha Christie's most acclaimed book. It was first published under the title 'Ten Little Niggers' in 1939. The publishers changed the title a year later, because they thought the title might be considered rasict.

The story in ‘And Then There Were None’ is about the inescapable fates of ten strangers who have all been invited to be the guests of the eccentric millionaire, Mr. U. N. Owen, at his mansion on his private island – Indian Island -off the coast of the English county of Devon. After dinner, a recorded voice booms out over the dining room accusing each of the guests of committing an undiscovered murder. It seems that each of the guests have a shady past and then one by one, each one of them dies, following the pattern that is highlighted in the children’s nursery rhyme the "Ten Little Indians" (originally “Ten Little Niggers”) that is written in all the bedrooms throughout the house. The first murder occurs on the first night by choking, echoing the beginning of the rhyme "Ten Little Indian boys went out to dine;

One choked his little self, and then there were nine.“
Marston is the first to die of Cyanide poisoning.
Everyone goes to bed uneasy, some feeling guilty about the crimes they've committed, others just worried about their safety. In the morning, they discover that the cook has died in the night as well, although it may have beennatural causes... The boat that is supposed to bring supplies is very late, and soon they realize that no one is coming to take them off the Island. They notice, as well, that every time someone dies one of the ten ceramic figurines disappear. As everyone begins to suspect one another, three of the men decide to search the Island to make sure that no one else is hiding on it. After an exhaustive search, they discover that there are definitely only eight people on the Island. For a moment, they believe that the deaths are just a horrible coincidence - until someone turns up with their head smashed in. Since there is no one else on the Island, that means that the killer can only be one of them. The Judge leads everyone to suspect each other, making sure that everyone understands that no one can be trusted. Everyone goes to sleep scared, some of them slowly being driven mad by their guilt. The next morning, Rogers, the butler, has disappeared. They quickly find his body - he's been murdered with an axe. Everyone starts getting paranoid. Emily, the old woman, begins acting strange, and everyone leaves her alone for a little while - when they return, she's been murdered, leaving only five people left. Wargrave, the Judge, suggests that they lock up all their possible weapons, including the revolver that Lombard brought. The revolver has been stolen though. They tear the house apart looking for it, but they can't find it.

Everyone decides to just sit around, with only one leaving at any one time - theoretically, they should all be safe that way. Vera, the one most wracked by guilt, goes up to her room and is frightened by a strand of seaweed that represents the boy she murdered by drowning. Everyone goes to check on her, and when they return to the drawing room, they discover that the Judge has been murdered - but they can't figure out who had the chance to do it. That night, the ex-policeman, Blore, hears someone sneaking out. He searches the remaining rooms, and discover that Armstrong, the doctor, is missing - so he must be the killer. The next day, Lombard, Blore and Vera, the three remaining guests, walk around the Island, trying to signal the mainland with a mirror. Blore goes back to the hoe for lunch, but is crushed by a falling slab of marble. Lombard and Vera are sure Armstrong is the murderer - until they find his body washed up against some rocks. Even though evidence has shown that neither of them could be the killer, Lombard and Vera don't trust each other. Vera steals Lombard's gun and shoots him. Happy to finally be safe and alone, and more than a little crazy, Vera walks back to the house, and finds that someone has set up a noose in her room. Finally giving into her guilt, she hangs herself.

The police find the Island a few days later, and are puzzled by the mystery - they can't figure out who killed everyone, since there are only bodies on the Island, and no one could have escaped it. A few weeks later, a bottle is caught a fisherman. Inside it is a confession written by Wargrave - it explains and why he killed everyone. His whole life he had twin conflicting desires - one for justice, the other to kill people. He'd enjoyed killing the guilty by sentencing them to death in his court, but that wasn't good enough. He wanted to kill people himself. Once he found that he was dying of cancer, he decided to go through with it. He found nine guilty people and lured them to the Island, then murdered them one by one, using Armstrong to help fake his death so that he wouldn't be a suspect. Once everyone was dead, he arranged to kill himself so that it would look like his fake death - so the police would be confused by an unsolvable crime. Lastly, he sealed up his confession in a bottle and threw it out to sea, because he couldn't bear the thought of no one ever knowing about how brilliant he was.

This novel is a masterpiece, full of mystery and suspense, from the wonderful author who has been called ‘the Queen of Crime’. It is an astonishing psychological thriller that grabs the reader’s attention from the very first page. Ms Christie manages to set the scene in an intense and intelligent way and turns the reader into an amateur sleuth – however as soon she allows that reader to think that they know for certain who the murderer is, that very person falls foul of the killer themselves! For a book that is over 60 years old, this is still an incredible and gripping read, with fantastic, well drawn and complex characters, the 200 pages just fly by as the book is just so difficult to put down. This clever lady manages to manipulate her reader's thoughts as she takes them deeper and deeper into this well-paced book that is the perfect epitome of a ‘who dunnit’. The atmosphere of the book is suitably dark and eerie, it is full of lots of wonderful red herrings that will take the reader by the hand and lead them in completely the wrong direction for a page or two and leave them with a feeling of impending horror. As an example of this genre, this is nothing more than brilliant, with an incredible ending that the reader just doesn’t see coming. It is the perfect mystery thriller and should be on the book shelves of any mystery fan.

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