This is a Review: And Then There Were None, by Agatha ChristieDecember 13, 2014
OK, that really wasn't a funny story. But I'm unexpectedly taking part in Cozy Mystery Week, just in the nick of time! On to the review.
ATTWN is the first real "whodunit" or "cozy mystery" I've ever read. I have never been especially drawn to the genre, despite the fact that I like similar things in my television (bodies, intrigue, a limited cast of suspects in finite quarters). When I picked this one up from the library, I knew I was dealing with one of the heavyweights of the genre. Indeed, this story had all the makings of a great one: ten strangers drawn together on a remote island, as they're slowly picked off one by one (to the tune of a nursery rhyme, no less) for the crimes they committed in the past.
The most fascinating part of the story to me was each character's way of dealing with the skeletons in his or her respective closet. Without giving too much away, these are all people that "the law couldn't touch," who'd committed acts ambiguous enough to not get them convicted. Most of the characters embodied this belief, initially denying that they'd done anything wrong, and some never acknowledged the weight of their actions before meeting their demise. Christie captured the human ability to avoid facing our mistakes brilliantly, and I really enjoyed watching the characters who survived longest grapple with their guilt.
As for the big reveal.... eh, I don't know. (I know this puts me in the minority, so get your shoes and tomatoes at the ready!) It was very well-constructed, no doubt, but I just wasn't blown away. Maybe it's because I'd had Christie's twists hyped for me before going in to the story, but I was waiting for something awe-inspiring and completely out of left field. I don't think I got it.
In researching Christie and her work, I came upon some... pretty unsavory things. Like ATTWN's original title. And her anti-Semitism. Of course, we can chalk these things up to Christie's background and it being "a sign of the times" she lived in. Still, as a careful and thoughtful reader, it's important to be aware of them. I would be curious to hear from people who have read her later work: did these stereotypes endure, or did her style change over time?
All in all, I'm glad to have read this one, and I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to curl up for a one-sitting read that will keep you guessing.
Anyone have a cozy mystery rec that will blow me away?