And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I swear, I didn’t buy this book because of the recent television adaptation. I did, however, finally get round to reading it because of the recent television adaptation. I also swear that I didn’t watch it on television because Aidan Turner was in it. I would have watched it anyway. The addition of Mr T (and his towel) was a happy coincidence.

Right, so now that’s out of the way, what did I think of the actual book? I’m an avid fan of the Marple series on television, and I adore David Suchet as Poirot. Any Christie film is more or less guaranteed to enthral me. I watched the recent Tommy and Tuppence series, having never read any books featuring this crime fighting duo, and I quite liked them. They weren’t as good as Poirot or Marple, but they were okay.

Normally, I’m the sort of person who will tell everyone to read the book if they’ve enjoyed a film or television programme. It’s not often I think the book inferior to the adaptation. The strange thing about Agatha Christie is that, I actually prefer to see her work on the screen. I used to own the complete Miss Marple collection (until a charity shop accident, when all my favourite books were taken to Oxfam by mistake and I was left with the huge box containing the ones I’d wanted to give away – but we don’t talk about that *sob*). Anyway, I really liked the books, but they weren’t quite as exciting as the programme.

I remember watching Peter Ustinov in Murder on the Orient Express. Strange choice of actor for Poirot, really, but nevertheless, I loved the film. I also loved the David Suchet version. When I finally got round to buying the book, I was sooo disappointed. It felt flat, dull, lifeless. Maybe that’s appropriate for a book about murder? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy it.

So I finally, having been enthralled by And Then There Were None over Christmas, picked up my copy of the book and began. It’s quite short and very easy to read. However, I have to say, I think I enjoyed it a lot more because I could visualise the characters in my head from the programme. I don’t think Agatha Christie does characterisation very well. We don’t really get any insight into them, and they come across more as plot devices than actual fully-rounded people. Seeing them come to life on screen makes them much more interesting.

Having said that, the plot is first class. Agatha Christie is a master at her game. No one can match her. She really knows how to come up with amazing stories, with twists and turns and red herrings galore. And Then There Were None is probably her best. I remember watching an old black and white film version of the story years and years ago, when I was a child, and it had terrified the life out of me. I remember, even then, wondering what sort of a twisted mind could come up with that solution.

The setting is fantastic. An island off the Devon coast, cut off from the mainland due to bad weather. There is just one single house is on that island, and a group of people, who do not know each other, have all been invited to stay there by the mysterious U N Owen. The island soon becomes a prison, as one by one, the guests are murdered. As it becomes clear that there is no one else on the island, and that one of them is the murderer, the sense of fear and claustrophobia is palpable. They are trapped. They trust no one. They become paranoid and terrified.

With every one of them accused of heinous crimes,  each of them must face their pasts, and acknowledge their guilt. Someone is making them pay, but if they are all killers, who is it that is acting as executioner?

Christie cranks up the tension beautifully and her plotting is ingenious. I read through the book very quickly indeed, not wanting to put it down. Given that I already knew the outcome, that says something about the story! And Then There Were None is by far the best Agatha Christie novel I’ve read to date, and it’s made me want to give some of her other books a chance.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an amazing, terrifying, superbly-plotted murder mystery. Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. And Then There Were None is the best clue as to why. 5/5

You can buy And Then There Were None here.