"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Despite watching plenty of Poirot on TV when I was younger, And Then There Were None was my first Agatha Christie novel, and I have really been missing out! Now that I have finished this gem I cannot wait to delve deeper into Christie’s vast array of mystery novels, and I have several lined up to read in the near future. Unfortunately this is a difficult book to review as I can’t give away many details without spoiling the reading experience for you should you choose to read it - which you definitely should - but I’ll give it my best shot.

In And Then There Were None ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island by a mysterious Mr. Owen. When they sit down to dinner on their first evening on the island, all of them wondering where on earth their elusive host has got to, a strange recording starts playing, and announces a dark secret that each of the guests is hiding. Soon afterwards the murders begin, with the guests dying one by one, and the race is on to uncover the culprit before there is no-one left alive!

The deaths themselves are very inventive and are linked with a nursery rhyme which is printed at the front of the book itself, and is also hanging on the wall in each of the guests’ bedrooms (not that they actually realise its significance for some time):

“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 travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in half and then there were six.

Six little soldier boys playing with a hive;
bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little soldier boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little soldier boys going out to sea;
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 sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little soldier boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”

What I loved so much about this novel was its ability to draw you in and keep you hooked right through to the last page. Each time I thought I had figured out who the killer was, they were murdered! I racked my brains trying to figure out how the murders were being done and who was behind them, and with the nursery rhyme as a constant clue to what the next death might involve I felt excited to discover how a kill would fit with a particular line, for example the line about the bear hugging somebody!

This little mystery was really gripping, with many twists and turns, and I could barely put it down. There are quite a few characters but don't let this put you off because you get to know them all quickly enough, and besides that, the number diminishes rapidly anyway. I highly recommend this, particularly if you enjoy a good murder mystery, but I think anyone could easily fall in love with this brilliant brainteaser.

Rating: 10/10 

My other Agatha Christie reviews:
Murder on the Orient Express


  1. This is a fantastic review. Iv'e been toying with the idea of reading this book for a while because I was half put off by the author (Iv'e never been 'into' her more famous works). But I'm defiantly going to give it ago now! I can't wait to think my way through the puzzles you speak of.

    1. Thanks Jack, I'm glad you found the review helpful. It really is great fun trying to figure out what's going on!

  2. This was a book which I picked up randomly totally unaware of its fame and cult status so I had no pre monition and expected it to be another typical investigative thriller.No book dashed all my standards of how a detective suspense thriller should be written and was ...I have no words for it.

    There is one suggestion that I would like to make.Make sure you start reading on a very calm and free day because once you start it then there is no stopping.You wont be sleeping again untill you finish it and even after that also you stay awke thinking of all those distinct characters and their unique stories each of which deserves to be in a seperate book and their eventual end.