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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Publication date: 1939
Original language: English


Eight people find themselves in a mansion on a remote island. They are strangers to each other, and only know that they have been invited by a U. N. Owen. In their rooms, each guest finds a copy of the poem "Ten Little Soldiers":

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.
Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.
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 into 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.
Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Soldier boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

At dinner, ten soldier figurines are discovered on the dining table, and a gramophone record is played in which an anonymous voice accuses each of the guests of murder. They realise that they have been duped into coming to the island, but now have no way of escaping. And then the first of them turns up dead...

Why you must read this book

This may be the classic mystery novel, by one of the great names of the genre. Christie builds up the tension of the claustrophobic island setting remarkably well and, unlike in some of her other novels, working out whodunnit is a real brain-teaser. The characterisation in this novel is also amongst Christie's best. If you're looking for an easy read which nonetheless keeps your mind working and sends shivers down your spine, this is the one for you.

Whatever you do, don't let anyone tell you the ending before you've read it. It makes the experience so much more enjoyable when you're kept guessing along with the steadily diminishing cast of characters...

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