“The World’s Bestselling Mystery”. I have no idea if that is true but, regardless, you cannot talk about mysteries without Agatha Christie. And any Christie discussion usually begins or ends with And Then There Were None (originally published as Ten Little Indians.)
Ten seemingly unrelated people are tricked into coming to an island and one by one they are killed. And Then There Were None.
What makes this story so brilliant isn’t the famous red herring (more on that in a bit) but the fact that this isn’t just a mystery. It is an examination of human nature, a psychological experiment, a thriller that sneaks up on you. Originally published in 1939, ATTWN is outstanding in the characterizations and the intricacy of the plot. Readers will theorize throughout the pages as to the identity of the killer but you really have no idea of the truth until you reach the end.
Red Herring* –
Is Christie the master of the red herring in literature? I have debated this with myself since I finished reading yesterday and I haven’t come up with my answer. About 50% through the book, my hands started shaking. The excitement to finish and get to the denouement was physically affecting me. When the red herring was finally revealed, I felt both satisfaction and disappointment. It’s hard to explain the mixture of emotion. On one hand, I firmly believe that ATTWN is a masterpiece and Christie is a genius. However, there was something in the ending that left me wanting. At first, I was a bit confused at my reaction. Then I realized – this is what Christie wanted the reader to feel. We aren’t meant to have everything tied up in a neat bow. There isn’t a happy ending. Just the cold, hard truth. And, she expertly led us there.
P.S. Before I published this review, I read through one final time. I used the word “brilliant” no less than 3 times in just a few sentences without even realizing it. Of course, I’ve changed a few of those uses now but that should tell you how I feel about ATTWN.