Welcome to Part 2 of July Classic Crime Read-Along, where we open the floor for discussion. You can find Part 1, a little background on Agatha Christie and the book’s publication history, here. Please feel very invited to join in the conversation at any point along the way!
Without further ado, some discussion questions!
- According to many sources, And Then There Were None is one of the most widely read books in the history of the world. What are your thoughts on its popularity? Do you understand the appeal to hundreds of millions of people over 5 generations? Have you met lots of other people who have read this book? I know I have.
- I had a conversation with a woman on the subway a couple weeks ago–I was thinking about this book for read-along, and she happened to be reading another Christie book at the same time. Christie is her favorite stylist, because of the spareness of prose, the focus on plot, and the number of plot twists. I prefer other authors (for example, from the same period I would take Dorothy Sayers or Josephine Tey) who offer more interiority and character perspective. What are your thoughts on Christie’s style? Do you like her storytelling? Do you prefer mysteries with more or less insight into what the characters are thinking? With more or fewer plot twists?
- Did you see the end coming? Did you predict the killer correctly? I did not, for the record. I spent most of the plot thinking the butler did it, until he died. Whoops. What did you think of the very ending, of the confession in the bottle? Did you think it was realistic?
- Would you characterize And Then There Were None as a fair-play mystery? I’ve seen it identified as such but I think you could argue both sides. For example, a fair-play mystery requires enough information that the reader might be able to solve the case if they were paying attention; for me, the ending came a little out of left field. Then again, it meets other interpretations.
- Christie was incredibly prolific, and her works ran the gamut of crime fiction (detective fiction, thrillers, plays, short stories, locked room murders, etc). Have you read other works by her? Were they similar or different? Do you recommend any favorites?
Thanks for reading along, all! Hope you enjoyed this month’s read and discussion.
Next month, I’m departing from the (mostly) chronological pattern we’ve been following and shaking things up! We’ll be reading Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, a children’s novel (winner of the 1979 Newberry Medal). It’s a reinterpretation of this quintessential locked-room mystery, but appropriate for anyone ages 10 and up! And tons of fun for adults. So be sure to join us in August!