Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Classics Club Read: And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie

Read for two challenges, my participation in The Classics Club and my own Agatha Christie Project that is a bit of a slow starter, but I'm determined to focus on more in 2022.

As almost everyone knows, this book has had multiple titles since it was penned in 1939. I am going with the least offensive title And Then There Were None, which actually makes the most sense and is the most foreboding of the various options.

I love Agatha Christie.

She was a clever woman who created four of the most iconic crime fighters/spies/detectives in the history of literature. I am, of course, speaking of Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.

But Agatha Christie did write novels separate from her most popular characters, and that's where And Then There Were None falls.

The basic gist is something akin to Clue, wherein ten people are invited under various pretexts to an island off the coast of Devon, known as Indian Island. Once there, these people quickly find that they are not on a jolly holiday, but rather, are being held accountable for murders committed by each of them at varying stages in their lives and for any number of reasons, including jealousy, carelessness, or pure neglect.

It should surprise no one that the ten guests on this island (the "host" is known as U. N. Owen, get it?!), begin to drop like flies, starting with the most annoying character who is a much more vicious version of someone who would be in Bertie Wooster's crowd. But Ms. Christie was not P. G. Wodehouse, and so this nasty young man described as a Nordic god mowed 2 young kids down in his car because he was speeding and didn't care one whit about the safety of others. He ends up choking to death on the first night, and my intense dislike of him shouted hurrah.

So goes the story with the number of guests slowly diminishing because after all, the title is And Then There Were None.

And Then There Were None is a rather chilling tale because there actually is no hero.

All of these people are guilty of someone else's death in one form or another, and none of them are very likable. Oh, possibly Vera is less unpleasant than the others and she actually seems to suffer from guilt at her crime, which is more than some of the other guests can say. But I still don't like her.

So it's peculiar reading a novel where there is not a single likable character in the bunch. And of course, there is the question of, is it murder if you're murdering murderers? My answer is yes, it is still murder since these people were not tried before a court and found guilty and had their punishment legally meted out. But on the flip side, I can understand the motivation for the crime, to enact justice where the system failed. Plus, this person has a deep-rooted desire to kill, but doesn't want to victimize the "innocent."

Regarding the novel itself, And Then There Were None doesn't have Agatha Christie's usual flair for the comedic, which is unfortunate because I miss it.

This is a very somber tome and after reading some of her other work, it just doesn't fit with the style I'm used to reading from her. It feels depressing and cold. Yes, there are some excellent lessons on morality, guilt, shame, and punishment, but I can't say that I loved it or would re-read it anytime soon.

The 2015 miniseries is pretty close to the book from what I can remember, although Sarah Phelps did mess with the ending a little bit. If you read my thoughts on The Pale Horse, both book (MY REVIEW) and miniseries (MY RANT), you'll see that I am not fond of Sarah Phelps at all. She keeps trying to force all of Agatha Christie's work into the box of And Then There Were None when really, most of her work is amusing and sarcastic and not nearly as dark as this particular novel. At least Sarah Phelps didn't massacre And Then There Were None like she did The Pale Horse.

4 yorum:

  1. Reading an Agatha Christie mystery is always a good idea.🙂 Good review!

    1. Thanks! It was an interesting read, but darker than I was in the mood for, I think. Which is weird because I like dark stories. I think I'll read it again in a couple of years and see if my thoughts change.

  2. I loved this book, but it definitely could have used a little humor.

    1. Right?! I think humor would have helped a lot. It's a good book with a pretty tight story, but yikes, very depressing.


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