Ten people are stranded on an island. One is a murderer. One day, visitors to the island begin to die continually, and then there are none. Who is the murderer? Is it the last character who died alone? If not, how did the murderer ensure that the plan of killing would execute perfectly after his or her own death? What is the motivation for the killings, and why did the murderer sentence himself to death? Focusing on these questions, Agatha Christie, the author of And Then There Were None, presents us with a mysterious and thrilling detective story.
A famous line from the book, “Ten little soldier going out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little soldier sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little soldier traveling in Devon; One said he'd stay there and then there were seven……”is an ancient English folk saying that was presented as a clue throughout the entire story. Ten victims died as the folk story describes, which indicated that the mysterious tale is unexpectedly a horrifying prophecy, adding a bit of thrill to the expression of the story. During the reading, a murmuring sound of a child occurs occasionally, whispering this line. It is a sung in a disconcerting way, but it is clearly rapped with the breath of death. Suddenly, the thirst for blood becomes visible on the innocent face of that singing child. Chills travel down our spines, and we would find ourselves, as the characters in this novel do, frozen in hopeless fear. From sunny to foggy, the island then switches from a perfect resort to a living hell. This novel would easily allow readers to recollect the weather in Britain: rainy, foggy, and chilling. The sea in the darkness hides its waves, frostily spying on every incident that happens on this isolated island. As the sea itself becomes a stage for murder, the beach is left again with the terrifying kiss of death. The story happens in Death On The Nile (another detective story written by Christie) which challenges readers’ intellect and logic, but the plot unfolding here in And Then There Were None tugs at the readers’ heartstrings.
It seems that the author Christie believes that people are inherently evil. Almost every character has motivations to commit crimes within her detective stories. As Agatha excludes those characters from the list of suspects, she ironically reveals the dark sides that lie deeply inside them. And Then There Were None is not an exception. The murderer records everyone’s darkest secrets in advance and acclaim their secrets as they step on the island: The doctor performs a surgery in drunkenness, causing the patient to die; the girl creates an accident for her lover in order to get the heritage…… everyone on the island is accused of something, which turns the island into a trial.
Struggling in hopeless, some characters are relieved because they cannot bear the guilt anymore; some are considered hopeless as nothing because they never regard themselves as criminals; some are indignant; some are in distress. But every individual, from the common citizens to nobility, is forced to unveil their disguises regardless of their emotions, and to behave as the real them under the cruelness of reality. Only a few of them long to live, but it is this longing for relief that is shared by everyone on that island, both mentally and physically.
The character Poirot also serves as a humorous addition in Agatha’s other detective stories, but And Then There Were None is submerged by the lament of depression from the beginning to the end. Instead of the sense of irony, rigorous criticism fills the whole story. Agatha Christie ruthlessly sentences those people to death with merely a folk tale. If you read the story at night, you might clearly hear their hearts beating for relief in total darkness.
The real identity of the murderer is revealed spontaneously at the end of the story. What really fascinates me is not the plan for killing, but the motivation. The apologetic nature of humanity is revealed as the island becomes helpless on this trail of crime. As we skim through the lines in Agatha’s story, it is her moaning that we should not ignore.