And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

First US Edition 1940

This was my fourth Agatha Christie novel and one that I knew I “should” read and wanted to read because several friends list it among their all-time favorite books. I read it this month for my Whodunit mystery/thriller book group which chose it as our book for February. It’s also on both the Mystery Writers of America’s Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time list (#10) and on the Crime Writers’ Association Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time list (#19).

It read it while sick in bed and loved every minute of it. I haven’t been so gripped by a novel in ages.  I now associate this novel with having curative powers over the common cold.

And Then There Were None was first published in 1939 and it still reads fresh. The premise of the book is that ten people are invited to a private island for a holiday and shortly after they arrive are murdered off, one by one,  in ways that are in line with the old nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians.”

Who is killing them and why? Who will be next and how? This is murder made fun and for good reason. When reading murder mysteries I’ve often felt guilty about “enjoying” death/murder. Not in this case. Sweet justice.

While researching the background on this novel I was surprised to find it was first published in the UK with the title Ten Little Niggers (after the British version of the rhyme). The Wikipedia page on this novel lists the non-English foreign edition titles used for this novel, which is rather fascinating. I wonder if the title corresponds to the rhyme in each country or is simply a literal translation of the original title. Personally, I like the connotation of And Then There Were None: it’s as if symbolically all the nasty types in the world have been swept away.

Cover of first UK 1939 edition by Stephen Bellman with original title (source)

Everyone in book group agreed this was the best mystery we’ve read so far. Highly recommend!  I hope to catch the new BBC adaptation of the novel that premiers in the US on March 13 & 14, 2016 on Lifetime.

This one totally counts towards #ReadMyOwnDamnedBooks challenge.

Other Christie novels I’ve read:
Murder on the Orient Express
The Body in the Library
Hallowe’en Party

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