Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ten Little Indians: Review

Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None, and originally published in 1939 under a more politically insensitive title) is one of my all-time favorite Agatha Christie novels. It is the ultimate locked room mystery (a "locked" island to be exact) or, in the broader term, impossible crime. The story is a familiar one to most mystery lovers: ten people of various backgrounds are invited for a holiday on Indian Island and at the end of the holiday everyone on the island is dead. Each has been lured there using a different bit of bait...but all for the same purpose--murder. Someone, using the name U. N. Owen, wants to kill them, apparently to provide justice for murders they have committed but which are untouchable by law. The first guest was poisoned after dinner. The second just didn't wake up in the morning. When the general was clubbed to death, they realized that the murderer was one of them. As their number grew smaller with each killing, their terror mounted. Was there no way out? Somehow, soon this vicious killer would have to be caught--before he had the pleasure of announcing: "and then there were none."
Even though I've read it many times, I still get nearly the same pleasure from it each time I reread it. Of course, the pleasure would be complete if I could conveniently forget the solution--but the story is told so well that I don't mind knowing ahead of time what will happen. I have had an ongoing practice of telling my friends whenever I find out that they plan to read this one for the first time, "If you can honestly tell me that you figured out who did it before the end of the story, I will buy you dinner--wherever you want to go." Thirty years and counting....I have not had to pay up yet.

I have read this so often and have seen so many reviews of it, that I don't really have much to say about the story itself. Instead, just a brief response to the audionovel version that I listened to this time. Norman Barrs, unknown to me prior to this audionovel, does an excellent job with a very smooth narration.  He provides very distinct voices and intonation for each of the characters--making it easy to follow who is speaking. The almost four hours required to listen to the story flew by and I was completely immersed in the story once again. Christie has garnered five stars on all previous readings and I once again award both novel itself--and the reading--★★★★

Of course, Christie's novel is so famous it has not only been read as an audionovel several times, but it has also been made into several films. My favorite is the 1945 version filmed under the title And Then There Were None and featuring Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, and not-yet Dame Judith Anderson. 

This fulfills the "Locked Room" (aka Impossible Crime) square on the Golden Vintage Bingo Card and completes my 4th Golden Bingo.


Anonymous said...

Great review Bev, anf it is certainly unassailable now as one of the true GAD great 0 abd I agree, the 1945 movie adaptation is still the only one that truly works.

fredamans said...

Now this one I actually have around here somewhere. No, I've never read it, but my grandmother gave e a box of old books and this is one that was in it. One day I will get to it.
Great review!

Ryan said...

My favorite Christie mystery, and that is in fact the best movie adaptation so far.

Susan Lindquist said...

This is how bad I am ... have heard of Christie, but never read her work or seen any of the adaptations of her work. This must change, I know.Good post!