Often considered one of Agatha Christie’s best mystery/murder books – this is the story of 10 strangers lured to Indian Island by a mysterious host. Once his guests have arrived, an unknown host accuses each one of a murder from their past. Unable to leave the island, the guests begin to die one by one and they struggle to figure out who is killing them before it’s too late.
This is a great classic of murder-mystery storytelling. So classic in fact that it has been converted to several movies and a wildly popular play. Currently it’s the world’s best-selling mystery novel and one of the top 10 best-selling books of all time. Its various plot devices have been copied so often that many say that it actually create a genre of its own.
The story (no big spoilers):
Ten people are invited via letter to a mysterious island. Upon arriving, they find a beautiful mansion fully stocked with all modern conveniences and comforts – but no host. As the settle in after dinner, a mysterious recorded voice accuses each one of a murder from their past. As they argue over the accusations and struggle to figure out what is going on; the guests start dying. Trapped on the island by a storm, they die one by one as they try frantically to figure out who is the murderer and why. To add to the terror, they die in the order and method specified by a child’s nursery rhyme tacked in each of their rooms. As the guest numbers dwindle, the levels of suspicion and hysteria rise dramatically until a crashing finale.
Review (no spoilers):
It’s a very different kind of murder mystery. There is no master sleuth – no Hercule Poirot or Ms Marple. There is simply you the reader and 10 ‘ordinary’ guests trapped on an island – as an unknown murderer slowly removes them one by one. You feel as if you struggle right along with the characters trying to sort it all out. Christie’s handling and revealing of their internal emotional states is dated but very well done. With a few exceptions, the characters all tend to act in accordance to their very different natures – which really adds spice to the story considering you have such different folks as a war hero, a judge, a governess, two servants, a private gun, and a prim spinster.
I would suggest this is a must-read for anyone who loves the genre and for those that love house mysteries or isolated party type of spooky affairs. As a lover of all these genres, this is the standard by which almost everything since is compared to as it rises above all the rest. I give it a solid A for it’s enjoyable read (I listened to it via audiobook and found myself several times sitting in the driveway just to get to the next chapter), relatively quick story, and for the fact it is the canon for this type of genre. Highly recommend