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I like big books.

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie A pretty brilliant whodunnit mystery that set the stage for remakes and reinterpretations galore. Christie's And Then There Were None damn near solidified an entire genre by itself. The narrative style is simple and direct, controlled and moderated to preserve the mystery and present a frustrating experience to the pseudo-sleuth in all of us as you race the narrator to the end and try to unravel who the murderer is before it's handed to you on a silver platter.

Ten disparate individuals receive subtly mysterious invitations to Indian Island off the coast of Devon for a summer retreat by a Mr. or Mrs. U.N. Owen and each has a unique backstory with a single feature in common: complicity in the death of one or more individuals in their murky past. As the travelers sit down to dinner, an eerie pre-recorded message accuses them of their crimes and sets off a wave of panic, accusation and paranoia that is delightfully brilliant. The characters feel real enough, even though several of them don't stretch very far beyond their literary archetypes, and the reader is left without much solid ground to stand on as you try and sift through who the reliable narrators are in the tale and piece together evidence before its presented by one of the ten in occasionally "summaries" of events to date. The narrative strategy is quite brilliant - on the one hand it promotes free-thinking for those who wish to pause and ponder the events for themselves, and on the other it provides an easy out for the less attentive reader who might have missed something subtle along the way.

Along the way we're exposed to pretty thought provoking questions about justice and who indeed has the right to judge, decide and deliver it in a morally ambiguous world. The tale challenges stereotypes and predispositions in clever ways for a tale from the 1930s (which is saying a lot considering how often it's been done since then) and remains a remarkable commentary on social obligations and social mores as well as an entertainment thrill ride.

My only complaint really is the end-narrative which places the events of the story in the proper context so that "all is revealed."