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From Ten to None… Are you ready to solve the mystery?

Many things are hard to explain. In many ways, even the simplest things seem vaguely so, but all seem terrifyingly complex in this mystery novel by Agatha Christie, the queen of horror titled And Then There Were None (1939).

In the novel, And Then There Were None, ten unlikely strangers get invited to Soldier Island, a newly acquired isolated island with a very expensive house by their hosts Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Unfortunately, the Owens are absent when they arrive (because they do not exist) and strange things begin to happen.

First a studio device reveals that all the guests were not invited at random by reading out each of their crimes and accuses each of them of being killers. While they each argue that the accusations made against them are not true, one of them suddenly starts choking on his drink. He collapses in the effort and it takes a while before they realize that he was poisoned (Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine).

Going through the events on their first night, nine of them rule it a suicide until daybreak, when the house cook is discovered to have also been poisoned in her sleep (One overslept himself and then there were eight). One by one they begin to die in the plot of And Then There Were None, like flies… and start to wonder if the killer is among them.

The nerve jittering part of And Then There Were None is the insane yet foreshadowing poem that comes with the house. It describes indirectly 10 Indian boys dying the same ways the characters on this island die, how they are killed ,each uniquely different from the rest.

Throughout the 272 pages of And Then There Were None, no reader can deny asking the same question “who is the real killer?, because none of them are innocent. The strangers include “a reckless playboy, a troubled Harley Street doctor, a formidable judge, an uncouth detective, an unscrupulous mercenary, a God-fearing spinster, two restless servants, a highly decorated general and an anxious secretary.” And all of them are accused of causing or committing a murder and escaping the law each, before arriving at Soldier Island where they will find no means of escape.

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And Then There Were None cannot be denied as one of the best works in horror literature. The sheer creativity by its author at a time when the world prepared to defend itself from itself in 1939, is what gives readers the escapism only this novel can give. It was converted into film after the war in 1945, 1965, the 2015 limited mystery TV series directed by Craig Viveiros… and more recently in 2017, with all bearing the same names as the novel except for that of 1965 which was called Ten Little Indians.

However, having read the novel, And Then There Were None, in English, it is not hard to see why there have been many adaptations on screen and translation of the novel into 50 different languages, because despite ten strangers arriving on that island, with no one else but themselves, none of them leave to tell the story.

We see guilt in the final stranger’s suicide of And Then There Were None, fear in the locking of doors at night time with chairs behind them, desperate courage in the doctor’s  need to swim against sea waves for escape and most of all, we see the cunning of the old man who planned it all. They were right, and you will probably guess right, too. The killer is among them.

Have a look at the classic trailer for the first film version of this horror mystery, “And Then There Were None!”

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