My Life In Books: And Then There Were None

I don’t remember if this was the first Agatha Christie book I ever read, but it was certainly the first one to make an impact. I have a vague recollection that someone gave me two or three Agatha Christie books as a Christmas present, when I was 13 or 14, and this was one of them.  I had already been attracted to mystery stories, from a very young age, but this one converted me into a life long crime & mystery fan.

As far as I’m concerned, this book – Christie’s finest work – remains the masterpiece of the ‘whodunnit’ genre. Ten strangers end up together in a remote house on an island. One by one, they all start getting killed. No one can leave, no one else can get on the island, so the murderer has to be one of the ten. It’s revealed that each of the ten characters is hiding a dark secret, and they appear to have been invited to the island because someone wants to dispense justice for past crimes that have gone unpunished. But who is the murderer? The plot of this novel is so ingenious, when the police finally arrive they discover ten dead bodies and no clues as to who killed them all. In fact, the mystery is only solved when a letter in a bottle washes up on shore several weeks later, written by the killer, and explaining how the murders were done.

This book was first published in 1939 under the title of TEN LITTLE NIGGERS, an old children’s rhyme. In a more politically correct era, the title was changed to TEN LITTLE INDIANS and then AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, which was its title by the time I got my copy in the mid-1980s.

I did manage to find a battered paperback copy from 1949 with the original title recently, in a second hand book shop. Even though it wasn’t in very good condition, I decided it was a treasure worth buying.

I have an idea for a story about my amateur sleuth involving a reality show in a remote house because I really want to write an homage to this book. The problem is, as I soon realised, my book will be nowhere near as good as Agatha Christie’s, and the manuscript currently lies abandoned on the computer, halfway through Draft 1.

Come to think of it, I must make a point of re-reading this book at some point in the near future. It might inspire me to get back to the abandoned Shara Summers novel.


6 comments so far

  1. gypsyscarlett on

    My favorite by Christie. Have read it countless times. I’ve also toyed with homage ideas. I think a major key is to just concentrate on writing your story the best you can. Don’t worry about it not being as good as hers. Just write your own piece and it will stand on its own.

    • sayssara on

      Thanks for commenting, gypsyscarlett! Probably good advice to focus on one’s own style. None of us is the next Christie/King/Rowling. We are instead the first of us!

  2. gypsyscarlett on

    My fave Christie. And I also have had the desire to write a homage. I have an idea brewing. Don’t worry about it not being as good as hers. Just write your story to the best of your ability and it will stand on its own. Good luck with it!

  3. yhosby on

    I love Agatha Christie!!! She’s one of my favorite authors, and I love that story you mentioned. Good luck with your manuscript!

    Keep smiling,

  4. Thea Landen on

    This is one of my all-time favorite books! I’ve read it countless times, and every single time, I’m struck by Christie’s brilliance. I’ve read many of her other books, and I’ve enjoyed most of them, but I’ll always love And Then There Were None the most.

    Now, if someone could finally get a decent movie version going….

    • sayssara on

      Thanks for commenting, Thea! I think the reason none of the movie versions have worked is that the Hollywood’s desire for a happy ending mean two people have to be innocent, fall in love, and find the killer.

      We need a version that sticks to the book, where no one is innocent!

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