And Then There Were None

by Agatha Christie (1939)

5/10

It’s engaging and moves quickly, but ultimately pretty thin. This is really my first foray into the whodunnit genre and as of now I prefer my mysteries either more organic (e.g. The Quiet American) or hard-boiled (Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett). Christie’s contrived scenario plays like a mere brainteaser, and while those can provide adequate diversion they’re not really why I read in the first place. I guess I know to avoid them from now on.

Other problems I had: the dialogue style was distractingly rudimentary, none of the characters are developed enough for you to have a real chance at guessing motives, and the killer’s introduction (i.e., the first scene we meet him/her) was a cheap misdirection that made any prediction of the finale virtually impossible. If a mystery author doesn’t play fair then she negates her purpose — the mystery becomes illegitimate. In other words: an insoluble puzzle is fun for nobody, though perhaps interesting as a curiosity.

For more info. . .

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