And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Reading Challenge: A classic from the 20th Century
This was one of the books I was surprised to realize I’ve never read. I read a lot of Agatha Christie when I was younger, mostly Poirots, and this one is such a classic. In fact, And Then There Were None has inspired so many books, movies and episodes of TV shows, I figured maybe reading it would be kind of predictable. “Oh, yeah, and then they find another body, ho hum, SEEN it.” I was wrong.
This book is creepy as fuck.
The plot is familiar at this point: strangers invited to an island, confronted with their past crimes, slowly killed off one by one, and the killer is among them. I did not guess who it was, although I wasn’t surprised when I found out.
I think what makes this book work so well (and be still so creepy) is that it avoids a lot of the cliches you see in horror. The characters react to their situation in a logical way (freaked out but trying to keep their heads) rather than panicking and shouting at each other the second someone dies. The setting is isolated but the house is well-lit and comfortable. Later, yes, all of this starts to deteriorate, but it happens over time instead of INSTANT TERROR YES WE’RE GOING TO KEEP UP THIS HUGE LEVEL OF TERROR THE WHOLE TIME.
Fun fact: while I was reading this home alone, someone knocked on the back door of the apartment. The back door, by the way, doesn’t open: it’s painted over, locked, there’s a bar over it and the cat’s litter box is right in front of it. NO ONE HAS EVER KNOCKED ON THE BACK DOOR. I was so scared I didn’t move. There was another knock. I grabbed my keys, walked out the front, and found out that it had been the lady who cleans the halls, offering to clean the apartment, too, if I wanted, and handing me her business card. I think she could tell she’d freaked me out, too, because she apologized about ten times.
Now granted my baseline mental state right now is totally frazzled (ditto about half the country right now) due to certain monumentally horrific election results, but I’m pretty sure I can chalk my overreaction up to this book about 85%. It’s creepy. It’s a quick read. It definitely is a mystery classic.
Recommended pairing: The brandy, as long as it was an unopened bottle and you know nobody poisoned it.