Tuesday, March 21, 2017

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie : A Review


BOOK TITLE: And Then There Were None

AUTHOR: Agatha Christie

ISBN/ASIN: 9780007136834

GENRE: Fiction - Mystery/Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 250

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This book was a treasured gift from a friend.

SUMMARY:

First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

This book obviously needs no introduction. Having obtained fame as one of the most renowned mystery / thriller books ever written, this book is an international favorite. I had picked this book up to read many times and have often given up due to some other commitments. I also had a vague memory of rushing through the book to the end . But the reader in me realised that I had not given the book the attention it deserved. So I decided to sit myself down and read the book this time with no distractions and definitely no other book running in parallel. Because Christie deserved by undivided attention at all times.

The cover (there are many versions of the cover, but I am talking about the one I have) was simple and gave no clue as to what the story was about. The summary was short too and I had to brush up whatever I remembered about the book and its famous history as I read it. I was really eager to know the 'secret that will seal their fate'.

REVIEW:

Some books tell you why you only loved to read particular authors, no matter what the book they had written was. I was lucky I grew up with the right guidance and read my Blyton and Christie novels before I embarked on experimentation with other genres and other authors. It was, therefore a pleasant dose of excellent writing that drew me into the book again. My glowing review of the book is not to talk about the prowess of the author but rather the emotions I felt while reading the book.

The book began with a long chapter 1, and I had to keep all the names and places straight. It was funny that I had gotten so used to the rapid and quick action books of modern days that this exercise took sometime. But once I had gotten into the groove of the book, there was nothing that could beat the magic that was Christie's writing. The story began with ten different people travelling to an island on request. Some of them were there on a request for employment, and some of them for vacation and some for a few other reasons. The common thing about all of them is that they are not really sure about who had invited them to the place but were very eager to know what was in the famous island that was rumoured to have been bought by many celebrities.

Starting with the way Christie introduces the characters, everything about the story from then on is very descriptive and took me back to the places and times that were being talked about. Not waxing eloquently about the book's story itself, (seeing as it will be so popular), I wanted to use this space to comment on the writing. Be it in the poem that is displayed in the rooms or the bone chilling manner in which each death played out, the level of suspicion and confusion reaches a feverish pitch as more and more people succumb. Unlike the popular belief of authors these days, there was no need for flashy technology or adrenaline rushes during the narrative to keep the pages turning. Christie manages to get the brain running even without the help of all such additional aids that most modern novels depend on.

As each of the ten 'guests' on the island were murdered, and the suspicion kept shifting focus like a game of 'pass the parcel', I found myself altering the climax I had envisioned in my mind many times over. I had great fun including my own 'detective inputs' and trying to solve the riddle before I came to the end. My suspicions were proven right in some cases, with some facts only strengthening the theories I had and some times I had to alter my assumptions as yet another victim fell. And this, I think, is the success of the book. Be it with the lost and found gun or with the deaths that happened too very suspiciously, or the internal thoughts of every would be victim, I finally understood why this was praised as one of her best works. I fell in love with the story despite some of its logical errors and confusions because overall it was an amazing book that kept me hooked from start to finish.

The book won not only because of the interesting story line but also the questions it placed before the readers. Taking up the mantle of a provider of justice is not something that everyone can do. Justice is a very vague concept based on the perception of the individuals and books like these reveal different facets of themselves at the different ages we read them in. And right now, the book has set me wondering about who has the right to impart justice as they seem fit and how there are crimes that are unpunished by law but still have to face the required judgment in some way or the other. The legal aspects of this apart, the moral right anyone seems to take upon themselves to impart the justice leaves a lot for analysis.

The language and the story line need no more glorifying comments because they were exceptional (even with my biased review, they really are). There were some parts of the book that I wished were clearer and some parts I wish had more detailing instead of the bleary descriptions that were common. But overall, this book is special because it took me back to a childhood of memories where I spent numerous afternoons reading Christie and Doyle and deducing the answers to the mysteries before the fictional detectives did. I still am not clear of the sense of awe in which the poem was used aptly in the book, so much so that its last line became the modified title of subsequent reprints of the book that was once called 'Ten Little Niggers'.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The brilliant story line.
  • The thoughts that the book left me with
  • The book took me back to my childhood memories and for that I am very grateful.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The book's climax and justification is either a make or break
  • Mainly because the climax is known, there is no sympathy for the characters, and they don't grow on the readers like they should.
  • The fact that there were virtually no clues and the fact that everyone was eventually going to die might be a dampener for some readers.
VERDICT:

The book is right up there with the best of suspense novels. I loved it and felt it lived up to the hype.

RATING: 4.5/5



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was a very popular bestselling English novelist, playwright and short story writer. She is widely known for her crime novels. She has also written 6 romance novels under the name of Mary Westmacott. She was married to Archibald Christie, with whom she had a daughter Rosalind. After a divorce, she married Max Mallowan. Apart from this book, Agatha Christie has also authored The ABC Murders, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Orient Express.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

PRICE Rs. 142 for Paperback, Rs. 817 for Hardcover, Free on Kindle

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

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