Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cannonball Read #15: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

It seemed amazing to me that I had never read this book. In fact, until I started reading I was pretty sure I had read it at some point, but it turns out that's not actually true. Upon reflection, I realized I had seen a comedic musical based on the book at a dinner theatre years ago with my grandparents. The differences between the book and a (hilarious, admittedly) musical are unsurprisingly numerous. It turned out I'd been missing a FANTASTIC book for years because I believed I'd already read it.

For anyone unfamiliar, the plot is pretty simple: 10 people are invited for a weekend on a remote island. When they arrive, they discover they haven't been invited for a quiet country weekend, but rather to be punished for their perceived crimes against humanity by a mad man. The tough bit is they have no idea who their executioner is. As the guests start dropping dead in a variety of ways, the paranoia and suspicion and tension mount to a final and unexpected conclusion.

I haven't really read any Agatha Christie, and always assumed to be sort of Murder She Wrote cutesy old-lady detective stories, but this book was fucking CREEPY. Even though I was fairly sure I know how it would end, the tension is unbelievable. The way the book is written, coming from the viewpoints of everyone, including the murderer--but without specifying who's who--allows the reader to be caught up in the confusion and fear. Although the characters are not especially detailed (it's a fairly short, quick book which doesn't waste a lot of time on details) the descriptions provided allowed me to get an impression in my head that served me very well. The pace moves along at almost breakneck speed, and I got so wrapped up in the story I actually missed my bus stop on the way home last night and ended up at the end of the line, wondering what the hell happened. On the whole, a fantastic book I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys suspense.

(As a side note, I believe the show I saw based on the book was called "Something's Afoot" [although I can't swear to it] and it was also quite entertaining.)


Mr. Controversy said...

I remember reading this book in seventh grade, and being floored by the twist ending. If only more kids were assigned to read this.

The Caustic Critic said...

I agree--this would be a great book for English classes...it's quick, there's no sex, cursing, and very little gore, but it'd keep kids interested, and the vocab is just high enough to make it challenging but not impossible. (It's definitely better than some of the dreck I was subjected to in school...)