Tea. Sarcasm. Downtown Abbey. Benedict Cumberbatch. Harry Potter. The accents.
That’s only the beginning of my list of everything I love about the British. It’s a long list.
At the top of that list is a book from 1939 called “And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie. As any Sherlock fan will tell you, the British know how to write a good mystery. “And Then There Were None” is her masterpiece, the best-selling mystery of all time. So while it is an oldie, it is definitely a goodie, and a book that I recommend-for when a book is old enough, there is a whole new generation that will find the story quite new.
Here’s the premise. Ten people arrive at an isolated island, all lured there under false pretenses and all with secrets to hide. One by one, they are murdered, until the island is left empty. Given the fact every possible suspect is dead, there’s a twist on the classic question, “Who did it?”
Christie isn’t the most stylistically impressive author I’ve ever read, but she is diabolical with her plot. Before “Inception” or “The Matrix,” there was this book.
Christie shifts between perspectives, and the constantly changing dynamic keeps the suspense and tension high. The creepiness factor is also exponentially increased because the murders follow the pattern of a morbid nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Indians.” Every time someone dies, a little wooden Indian figure disappears from the dinner table.
Unlike some modern-day crime shows, this is not a book where you can guess the killer’s identity fifteen minutes in.
Every time I thought I knew who it was, that character died, and was proved innocent too late. In retrospect, I realize that Christie drops enough clues to give the attentive reader a fighting chance at solving the mystery. To be honest, I took the other option and just waited for the epilogue to explain it.
So anyone with an appreciation for the British or plot twists or suspense (i.e. anyone with a soul) should go read this book.
And if you want the full British experience, I recommend reading it in rainy weather, with a strong cup of tea and a good scone.