Agatha Christie‘s most popular mystery is a standalone novel that has none of her famous detectives, like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, in it. And Then There Were None (1939), originally titled Ten Little Niggers, is most of all her most daring mystery. Christie took up a challenge and wrote her most astounding murder plot. As it is her most popular novel it is enough to say she succeeded in completing her challenge to write an incredibly compelling murder mystery.
Telling much about the plot without giving much away is difficult. Comparing it to the Agatha Christie novels I’ve read in the past it is quite different in structure. Usually she starts off to set the stage, introducing the different characters (or possible suspects), following a murder investigation. This time there is hardly an introduction before the murders start as she has a lot of ground to cover to meet her challenge. Because of this the characterization is done during the events of the novel. The advantage of this, due to the required plot development, is that the events allow Christie to give the characters a greater substance than usual when they are just the possible suspects or victims.
The whole compelling plot creates an unique atmosphere. It’s not even that detailed and actually quite compact. Christie doesn’t use more words than necessary and doesn’t stretch out the developments. The pace is rather high and in combination with Christie’s easy writing style it makes a fast read. That said, I finish her books very quickly, which is one reason why I like to watch TV and movie adaptations because they are slower and give me more time to appreciate the mystery.
As this is a book in the top 10 of most sold novels I don’t really need to recommend it. If you like mystery it is simply a must-read. I am happy I finally did as for some reason I never picked it up. Better late than never.