Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Audiobook Narrator: Dan Stevens
As a big fan of slasher films, it’s no surprise that And Then There Were None was an enjoyable ride. Ten people accept invitations to join U.N. Owen on Soldier Island. All ten are lured to the island in different ways, and have their own reasons for being there. Once they arrive, a mysterious gramophone record plays, and accuses them all of murdering someone from their past. They all, of course, deny this, but can they all be trusted? It’s not until some of the ten begin dying that they start to have a good reason to question just why they are there, and who this U.N. Owen fellow really is.
Agatha Christie is a titan in the industry, and I’ve always been interested to read her more popular novels. My intention, when I opened up my Hoopla app to borrow a Christie audiobook, was to start Murder on the Orient Express, mostly because I want to check out the recent film. But when I discovered that Orient Express was actually a novel in the Hercule Poirot series, I paused. Is this a series I should read in order, or doesn’t it matter? Will I miss out on some of the fun links between the books and characters if I start the series in the middle of it? Thoughts like this rushed through my paranoid brain, and I decided that more research was needed before just diving in. That’s what brought me to And Then There Were None.
It surprises me how well this story has held up, especially since it was first published 80 years ago next month. The way that Christie is able to weave together this intricate mystery is admirable. There tends to be a lot of plot holes in stories of this nature, but I wasn’t able to find any, and a quick Google search doesn’t point out any that I agree with either. Christie has said that this is one of the most difficult novels she wrote, but her skill really shines through here.
The only disappointment I had was in the lack of any legitimate clues to the killer’s identity throughout the story. One is left to simply guess who the killer is as Christie doesn’t guide the reader at all. Many times, with a good mystery, once the killer is revealed, you can go back through the story and piece it all together, trying to determine how in the world you missed the now obvious clues. That isn’t the case with And Then There Were None. Instead, the story is written in a way where almost anyone could be the killer, which you may appreciate more than I did.
Dan Stevens narrated the audiobook version I listened to, and he does a masterful job with the material. Each of the ten characters not only sound significantly different from one another, but there is a different energy to each as well, which is the mark of a truly remarkable actor. I’d highly recommend this audiobook, whether this is a first-time read, or if you’re revising an old classic.
And Then There Were None is a really well-told mystery, and acts as a blueprint for the slasher films that would become popular about 40 years later. This isn’t one where I was gathering clues as a reader to figure out the mystery on my own, but I still admired how tight and relatively flawless Christie’s plot plays out. This is a classic for a reason, and one that anyone should be able to appreciate.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.