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I like There is scarcely any comfort to be found in this book, only an ancient, arcane horror. The whimsy of the moment, however, ebbs away when a disembodied message blaring from a gramophone tallies, in vivid and mordant detail, their unpunished crimes.
Memories of their misdeeds, which used to be a distant and blurry thing, suddenly come into a sharp, lurid focus. Death runs rampant with his bloody scythe on Soldier Island. Each creak and groan is a hunter stalking them, each flutter of wind its breath, close against their necks. This is their sentence coming to retrieve them. The experience of reading this book is akin to walking through a nightmare; I could not orient myself, did not know north from south.
My heart was a fistful of thunder, my mind a whirl pool of possibilities—each more terrible than the last. The not knowing was like a splinter in my mind.
And as I was tracing the implications of every new revelation, my small, sickly faith was eroding. And Then There Were None is not a light read—it is, in fact, unrelentingly harrowing. The hermetic, creepy atmosphere of Soldier Island makes a thriving black petri dish of foreboding and distortion.
And as each of the characters' haunting pasts come to light and as their secrets swell to bursting, the book becomes more and more page-turning. But what appears to be a thriller is something far more perilous.
Christie imbues the story with a well-observed psychological depth that holds its own fascination. The surface, of course, is arresting, but the harder you think the further you go, and it keeps on getting more productive. The mind is an imperfect engine that does what it will with the information it receives.
However the situation they find apparently contradicts any theory they can suggest - Vera's fingerprints on Lombard's pistol and the clock that killed Blore coming from Vera's room point to Vera as "U. Owen" yet the chair Vera kicked away is found neatly set against the wall, Lombard's revolver was not found on or near his person, Armstrong's body has been dragged above where any tide could have taken it, it is inconceivable that Blore could or would have dropped the clock on himself, and the inclement weather combined with the distance from the mainland would have prevented anyone else from entering or exiting the island before the first boats arrived after the weekend-thus someone must have been alive after the deaths of Vera; Lombard, Armstrong and Blore.
The novel proper ends with the investigators thoroughly confounded by the apparently impossible situation they must unravel. Postscript by the killer In a postscript, a fishing ship picks up a bottle containing a written confession inside its trawling nets, which is sent to Scotland Yard and explains the events, but has been left to chance whether it will be discovered.
It is signed by Justice Wargrave, who states he has, since childhood, relished causing suffering, but in adulthood he determined that such pain be meted out only to the guilty.
Upon hearing of a chance remark of possible suspects having gotten away with murder and having learned he was terminally ill with a relatively short time to live, he decided to commit murder himself, locating ten individuals who had knowingly or intentionally caused the death s of others but escaped earthly justice.
And Then There Were None Books
He lured nine of them to the island he had downloadd with the help of Isaac Morris, and pretended to be a tenth visitor like them. Experienced in observation, he confirmed all were guilty by their reactions to the phonograph recording.
His tenth killer and first chronological victim was his sole go-between and contact, Morris, who had been responsible for the death of the daughter of Wargrave's friends from a drug overdose. Morris, a hypochondriac , constantly complained of maladies, both real and imagined. For this reason, he accepted a cocktail of sleeping medication given to him by the judge, who promised they would cure his upsets, however proved fatal.
Wargrave first killed those he considered less culpable, saving the "prolonged mental strain and fear" for the more cold-blooded perpetrators, slipping potassium cyanide into the drink of Marston whom he felt was amoral and chloral hydrate into the drink of Mrs. Rogers who acted largely under the influence of her domineering husband.
After bludgeoning General MacArthur with a life preserver and Rogers, the butler, with an axe, the judge used the remaining chloral hydrate as a sedative in Miss Brent's coffee before injecting her with potassium cyanide when she was left alone in the kitchen, using one of Dr Armstrong's syringe. He then played upon Armstrong, who trusted the judge, whom he persuaded to go along with a plan whereby the judge would fake being shot dead , but would, actually, remain alive and thus be able to investigate who was the "real killer".
After Wargrave's "death" was "confirmed" by Armstrong, the judge met with his dupe secretly that night along the rocks overlooking the sea and pushed him off the cliff where he drowned, at a location where the body would wash ashore with the tide. After dropping the clock on Blore, he correctly surmised that Vera and Lombard would turn on each other but that she would be more than a worthy opponent and manage to turn the tables on the latter.
At which point he placed the noose and chair in her room as a "psychological experiment" — which, combined with her "hypnotic" posttraumatic state from shooting Lombard, he again correctly anticipated would lead her to hang herself. After her death, Wargrave describes how he returned the chair back against the wall, and wrote his confession , admitting a "pitiful human need" for recognition, which he will throw into the sea in a bottle before shooting himself.
He states that he will fasten a rubber cord to Lombard's gun, using a handkerchief to prevent leaving any of his own fingerprints. If this plan works as intended, the gun will recoil after firing the fatal shot through the forehead, leaving him exactly as described in the others' diaries, with the gun fallen far from his own hand.
The cloth on the floor should "not attract any attention", he notes. He concludes that when the police arrive, "they will find ten dead bodies — and an unsolved mystery — on Soldier Island".
Wargrave points out three clues by which the police could perhaps identify him as the killer, but surmises correctly that the police will not figure them out: Wargrave was the only "innocent" guest, since the man he sentenced to death - despite strong public belief in his innocence - was found after his execution to have been unquestionably guilty of the crime for which he was hanged. Therefore paradoxically the only innocent guest had to be "the" murderer!
Characters The following details of the characters are based on the original novel. Backstories, backgrounds and names vary with differing international adaptations, based on the rules, censorship, cultural norms, etc. Anthony James Marston killed two young children John and Lucy Combes while driving recklessly, for which he felt no real remorse nor did he accept any personal responsibility, complaining only that his driving license had been suspended as a result.
He was the first island victim, poisoned with potassium cyanide slipped into his drink while the guests were listening to the fateful gramophone recording.
She was dominated by her bullying husband, who withheld the medicine of their former employer an elderly spinster, Miss Jennifer Brady to collect an inheritance they knew she had left them in her will. Mrs Rogers was haunted by the crime for the rest of her life, and was Owen's second victim, dying in her sleep peacefully from an overdose of chloral hydrate in her brandy. General John Gordon Macarthur, a retired World War I war hero, who sent his late wife's lover a younger officer, Arthur Richmond to his death by assigning him to a mission where it was practically guaranteed he would not survive.
Leslie Macarthur had mistakenly put the wrong letters in the envelopes on one occasion when she wrote to both men at the same time. The general fatalistically accepts that no one will leave the island alive, which he tells Vera Claythorne.
Shortly thereafter, he is bludgeoned while sitting along the shore with a life preserver. Thomas Rogers, the butler and Ethel Rogers' husband. He dominated his weak-willed wife and they killed their former elderly employer by withholding her medicine, causing the woman to die from heart failure and inheriting the money she bequeathed them in her will. He was killed when bludgeoned with an axe as he cut firewood in the woodshed. Emily Caroline Brent, a rigid, repressed elderly spinster holding harsh moralistic principles.
She accepted the vacation on Soldier Island largely due to financial constraints.
Years earlier, she had dismissed her young maid, Beatrice Taylor, for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Beatrice, who had already been rejected by her parents for the same reason, drowned herself in a river, which Miss Brent considered an even worse sin. She refuses to discuss the matter with the gentlemen, but later confides what happened to Vera Claythorne, who tells the others shortly before Miss Brent is found dead herself.
Having been sedated with chloral hydrate in her coffee, leaving her disoriented, she was left alone in the kitchen and injected in the neck with potassium cyanide with one of Dr Armstrong's hypodermic syringes the "bee sting". Right before her own murder, due to the chloral hydrate she has ingested, she has a lurid daydream about Beatrice and imagines hearing the girl's footsteps they are actually the footsteps of the murderer. Dr Edward George Armstrong, a Harley Street doctor, responsible for the death of a patient, Louisa Mary Clees, after he operated on her while drunk, many years earlier.
And Then There Were None
Armstrong foolishly trusts Wargrave, and, while rendezvousing with the judge on a rocky cliff, is pushed into the sea and drowns. His body goes missing for a while, leading the others to believe he is the killer, but his corpse washes ashore expeditiously at the end of the novel, leading to the climax.
William Henry Blore, a retired police inspector and now a private investigator, accused of falsifying his testimony in court for a bribe from a criminal gang too dangerous to double-cross, which resulted in an innocent man, James Landor, being convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Landor, who had a wife and daughter, died in prison. Blore arrives using the alias "Davis" and claiming to have arrived from South Africa, as he was instructed to do by Isaac Morris, who hired him for "security" work, but is confronted about his true name which was revealed on the gramophone recording, and he acknowledges his true identity.
He denies the accusation against him from the gramophone recording but later privately admits the truth to Lombard. His skull was crushed by a bear-shaped clock dropped from Vera's bedroom window onto the terrace below. Philip Lombard, a soldier of fortune.
Literally down to his last square meal, he comes to the island with a loaded revolver, as suggested by Isaac Morris. Lombard is accused of causing the deaths of a number of East African tribesmen, after stealing their food and leaving them to starve. He, along with Marston, are the only guests to openly and immediately confirm that the accusations against them are true; neither feels remorse. Lombard fulfilled the ninth referenced verse of the rhyme, shot to death on the beach by Vera, who believed him to be the murderer.
Of all the "guests" he is the only one to theorize that "U. Owen" is Justice Wargrave, but ironically he is also "tricked" by the Judge and the Doctor into circumstances leading to his own "execution". Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, a cool, efficient, resourceful former teacher and governess, who has taken mostly secretarial jobs since her last job as a governess ended in the death of her charge, Cyril Hamilton, whom she intentionally allowed to swim out to sea — as the child had wanted to do but had theretofore been denied as too dangerous — and drown.
She did this so her lover, Cyril's uncle Hugo Hamilton, could become the family heir, inherit the estate and marry her, which had been their original plan before Cyril's birth changed things.
She swam out to sea to "save" Cyril to make it seem he had disobeyed her — as she had consistently told him it was too dangerous — but knowing she would not arrive in time. Hugo, however, who loved his nephew, abandoned her after he somehow sensed what she had done. After shooting Lombard in what she believed was self-defense, she returns to the house, relieved she has survived.
When she goes to her room, she finds a readied noose, complete with chair beneath it, suspended from a hook hanging from the ceiling. In a combination of both latent guilt for her crime and in a post-traumatic state, she adjusts the noose round her neck and kicks the chair away, apparently fulfilling the rhyme's final verse "One little Soldier Boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none".
Justice Lawrence John Wargrave, a retired judge, known as a " hanging judge " for liberally awarding the death penalty in different murder cases, and is revealed at the end to be the killer on the island. Finding himself with only a short time to live , he creates a game in which, as island owner "U.
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Owen" a homonym of "Unknown" he entices various people who have caused death and escaped justice, to a secret location, in order to be a murderer himself, and to kill them in a way that would leave an almost-unsolvable murder mystery. In the story proper, he appears to be one of the ten visitors, and is accused in turn on the gramophone recording, of judicial murder as a result of giving biased summation and jury directions leading to a hanging which was widely believed at the time to be a deliberate miscarriage of justice on his part.
Wargrave fakes his own death as the sixth murder on the island, with Armstrong's help, creating an enormous red herring that fools everyone, and then kills Armstrong once the doctor's verdict of his death is accepted by the other visitors.
After Vera Claythorne's death, Wargrave rearranges some furniture in the house, writes his confession which he throws in the sea , and shoots himself in accordance with the others' diaries, using a rubber cord to throw the gun far from him, ensuring that his death will match their descriptions.
Sir Thomas Legge and Inspector Maine, two detectives who discuss the case in the epilogue of the book, but are unable to solve the mystery.
Isaac Morris, a lawyer hired by "Mr Owen" Wargrave to download the island on his behalf, and who is deceased before the story begins. He told the locals to ignore distress signals for a week.You were soon forgotten nowadays.
Ironically, "Indian" is now also a politically incorrect term, so the novel has officially been retitled And Then There None. I remember Seton perfectly well. There they had discovered William Henry Blore, standing staring at the mainland. The judge came and sat down by Emily Brent.
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