And Then There Were None
The ABC Murders
I am a huge Agatha Christie fan! I have read every single book and play by Agatha Christie. I have purchased them all, and have them all organized by publication order on my bookshelf. Since she wrote 66 novels, 14 short story collection books, and over 30 plays, I am often asked which one is best. My response is always the same:
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1939): That book was written by Christie in 1939, and is still the best selling crime novel of all time, by anyone, ever! It is a masterpiece of a novel, and by far Christie’s best murder mystery. Ten strangers are invited by a mysterious host to a party on an isolated island, cut off from mainland England, only accessible by boat. Since they don’t know eachother, they also don’t know why they are all invited there together. But, they all have dark secrets they are hiding. Then, one by one, they start to die. They think the first one or two are accidents, until they realize they were really murders. They also realize that the killer is stuck there with them on the island. Is the killer the mysterious host that invited them there and never showed up? Or is the killer one of them? Will they figure out who the killer is before they are all murdered? This book is a perfectly plotted, suspenseful, murder mystery, thriller. It will leave you on the edge of your seat the whole time, and you will not want to put it down.
But, after you read that one, where do you go next? If you don’t want to read all of her books in order as I did, (although that is a good idea for you all, and well worth your time if you love murder mysteries). I thought I would suggest some of my random favorites. I should mention that Ms. Christie’s most famous crime solving detectives are Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot. But, out of the favorites I chose here, only one is one of their books. The ABC MURDERS is a Poirot book. The rest are stand alone books, that just have a narrator or a random detective. I found I generally liked those better. Also, Ms. Christie is famous for her “closed-room” murder mysteries. Three out of the five of these I selected are “closed-room” mysteries. She is brilliant at writing those. So, here are the other four books I have selected as my favorites. I will write a Part 2 at some point later and give you a few more of my favorites then. In the meantime, enjoy these wonderful books!
ABC MURDERS (1936):This book is about a serial killer, before the phrase “serial killer” even existed. There is a killer on the loose in England. People seem to be being killed both randomly and alphabetically. A is for Ms. Ascher in Andover who is murdered first. Then B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, who is killed second. This killer is so confident, brazen, and bold that they inform Detective Hercule Poirot in advance of their next murder! Basically challenging the world’s best detective to solve the murders and save the next life before the murder kills again. It is an exciting, race-against-time thriller. There is a lot of reflections about early criminal psychology, which is interesting. This book is different in many ways from other Christie mystery novels, so that is why it made my favorites list.
SPARKLING CYANIDE (1944): This is a murder mystery written from several people’s point of view. The story centers around beautiful, young, wealthy, Rosemary Barton. She went out to dinner with 6 others for her Birthday celebration. She dies at this dinner from poison, but the police think it was suicide, not murder. One year later, her widowed husband thinks she was murdered and did not kill herself. So, he decides to invite all the same people to eat at the same place to “remember Rosemary”. But, he is really trying to find out which one of them really killed her. I love the storyline that he re-enacts the “crime scene” to try and find out what really happened to Rosemary a year ago. It is a Christie classic “closed-room murder mystery”. Meaning that someone in that room from that cast of characters is the murder, and you have to figure out what exactly happened, who exactly did it, and why. She specialized in writing this kind of murder mystery.
CROOKED HOUSE (1948): This is one of Agatha Christie’s personal favorites that she wrote, and one of my favorites as well. There is a surprise ending that you don’t see coming! The story is about three generations of a very wealthy family that live together in a sprawling mansion. The head of the family is murdered. The prime suspect is the man’s beautiful widow, who is a woman 50 years younger than him. But, the Chief Inspector investigating the crime has an inside view of this “closed-room murder”, because he is engaged to the victim’s granddaughter. However, everyone in the family are suspects to investigate. You might wonder is the name of the book, Crooked House, refer to the whimsical, strangely designed, old mansion? Or to the mentality/morality of the family living in it? Maybe it’s both. You should read this unusual murder mystery to find out.
ENDLESS NIGHT (1967): Ms. Christie says this is one of her favorites, and I agree, it is one of mine too. This book is different than her usual murder mysteries, this book is a thriller with twists and turns. This is not a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot book either. It is narrated by the main character, Michael Rogers. He becomes fascinated by a plot of land for sale, called Gypsy Acre. He has been warned that it has been cursed. But, he is poor and can’t afford to buy the property anyway. Then he meets a beautiful, wealthy, American heiress named Ellie. While Michael is without money, he is handsome and full of charm. The two of them fall in love and then get married. They buy Gypsy Acre and build their dream house on the land. Seemingly, things are going to be blissful for the couple. But, sinister things start happening, and these two young lovebirds will not be getting their “Happily Ever After”, after all.