Monday, April 19, 2010

"And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie

Summary: Ten unrelated people are summoned to isolated Indian Island.  Once all are assembled, a mysterious recording accuses each person, in turn, of committing a murder that "the law couldn't touch" (252).  As one by one the guests are killed, they realize that the murderer must be one of them.

Musings: I read a good amount of Agatha Christie novels as a kid, although I can't for the life of me remember if I read this one or not.  Nevertheless, mystery is a genre that I almost never read, so it was a lot of fun to jump into a fast-paced whodunit.  Although the basic plot of this novel has been endlessly parodied by Scooby-Doo and other shows and movies, it didn't lessen my enjoyment.

I was surprised at how quick the read was; I finished it easily in one reading.  The short chapters keep the events moving, as do the frequent switches in point of view.  The rapid introduction of all ten characters was a little overwhelming in the beginning (I felt the need to keep notes), but the differences between the characters are established pretty quickly and titles like "Dr." and "Justice" helped me keep the characters straight.

I suppose I could get philosophical about themes--the nature of murder and guilt most significantly--but that really isn't the purpose of the book.  Although I read it at home, it was the perfect "beach read" type book for me.  I hate chick-lit and romances, but this would be light and exciting enough (ironically enough, I suppose, for a book about murders) for a sunny day outside.  A number of my 9th grade students have really enjoyed the novel, so I think it would also be a good entry point for young people interested in mystery.

P.S.  I remember after I finished the book (and researched it) the issues with the racial epithet used in the original title and novel.  Mentions of racism and anti-Semitism remain, although from my perspective the change to "Indian" didn't seem to affect the book's content overall.  Undoubtedly some literary criticism has been written about the original title and its relation to the book as a whole, which would be interesting to read.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book when i read it with the rest of my class and now we are doing a project on it!!