And Then There Were None is the best selling mystery in the world, and is the first book I am choosing to review as part of my Author of the Month series. Previously known as Ten Little Niggers or Ten Little Indians, the title was changed later to be more neutral, I suppose. I have no doubt that there must be thousands of reviews of this book across the web. This is my version and my opinion of it.
The plot of the book is very famous. Ten seemingly random people are chosen and invited to spend time on a remote island in a grand mansion. Each is invited on a different pretext. But they have something in common. Each of them has committed a murder and got away with it. Dr. Armstrong has accidentally caused a death during surgery. Marston is a drunk driver. Lombard abandoned an African tribe and left them to die. You get the idea.
Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
On arriving at the island, the visitors are told that their hosts will arrive shortly. A poem about 10 Indians or Soldier Boys is framed and there are 10 small statues on a table. As the bodies drop one by one, the soldiers decrease in size. Of course, it takes the guests some time to figure out that they are being killed according to the poem, and that the little statues represent the people on the island.
I read this book long ago with the old title, and I have actually read the book that was called Ten Little Niggers. There is a certain aura of danger and uncertainty in the book that will rival any Gothic novel. You can’t help but get goosebumps as the people start disappearing. The eerie song that plays in the background adds to the atmosphere.
Like any Agatha Christie plot, there are plenty of red herrings and surprises in store for the reader. And Then There Were None is the must read mystery or suspense novel for any book lover.