This is a Review: And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

December 13, 2014

Source: Goodreads
So, funny story: I thought I'd completely missed Cozy Mystery Week this year and hadn't even planned on participating. However, someone in the blogosphere was talking about Agatha Christie's newest novel, and their conclusion was to start with something else, if you're new to her work. The title I saw thrown around the most was And Then There Were None. I noticed my public library had it and figured, hey, it's under 200 pages. Why not?

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?

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  1. I'm not a cozy reader. I like my books bloody and gory, when it comes to mystery and suspense. I did read ATTWN years ago tho, and I loved it. I'm big into amusement/theme parks and I actually designed a dark right after the book. It was pretty detailed. :D Anyways, I don't put a lot of stock in meanings of stories, I just like to read for the fun of it. I've never read any other books by Christie, cozys and classics just don't appeal to me at all. I hope you have fun with your cozy week tho!!

    1. Ooh, I bet that was a pretty fun park!

      This was my first cozy and may be my only, I think it's the type of plot device that would get stale for me after a while. I'm glad to have been able to take part in the Cozy Week, though—it ends today, so I just squeaked in with my post! :)

      Happy weekend!

  2. Agatha Christie are the only cozy books I've read and I have a huge fondness for them. This is my favourite one so I think if you didn't like it then maybe this genre is not for you. Maybe try a Miss Marple just to be sure!
    And yes I know what you mean about her views. I just put it in context that she was born over 120 years ago and things that were normal views for someone of her social standing back then would be very unacceptable in a modern day writer. I expect a certain amount of imperialism in her views and I do let it wash over me as otherwise it would annoy the hell out of me!