And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
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Short Summary Of The Book:
And Then there have been None could be a detective novel by English writer Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, described by her because the most difficult of her books to write down.
it absolutely was first published within the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939, as Ten Little Niggers, after the minstrel song, which is a significant plot point.
The US edition was released in January 1940 with the title then there have been None, which is taken from the last five words of the song. All successive American reprints and adaptations use that title, aside from the Pocket Books paperbacks published between 1964 and 1986, which appeared under the title Ten Little Indians.
The book is that the world’s best-selling mystery, and with over 100 million copies sold is one among the best-selling books of all time. Publications International lists the novel because the sixth best-selling tit
In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the
bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in the Times.
He laid the paper down and glanced out of the window. They were running now through
Somerset. He glanced at his watch – another two hours to go.
He went over in his mind all that had appeared in the papers about Indian Island. There had
been its original purchase by an American millionaire who was crazy about yachting – and
an account of the luxurious modern house he had built on this little island off the Devon
coast. The unfortunate fact that the new third wife of the American millionaire was a bad
sailor had led to the subsequent putting up of the house and island for sale. Various glowing
advertisements of it had appeared in the papers. Then came the first bald statement that it
had been bought – by a Mr. Owen. After that the rumours of the gossip writers had started.
Indian Island had really been bought by Miss Gabrielle Turl, the Hollywood film star! She
wanted to spend some months there free from all publicity! Busy Bee had hinted delicately
that it was to be an abode for Royalty??! Mr. Merryweather had had it whispered to him that
it had been bought for a honeymoon – Young Lord L… had surrendered to Cupid at last!
Jones knew for a fact that it had been purchased by the Admiralty with a view to carrying
out some very hush hush experiments!
Definitely, Indian Island was news!
From his pocket Mr. Justice Wargrave drew out a letter. The handwriting was practically
illegible but words here and there stood out with unexpected clarity. Dearest Lawrence…
such years since I heard anything of you… must come to Indian Island… the most
enchanting place… so much to talk over… old days… communion with Nature… bask in
sunshine… 12:40 from Paddington… meet you at Oakbridge… and his correspondent signed
herself with a flourish his ever Constance Culmington.
Mr. Justice Wargrave cast back in his mind to remember when exactly he had last seen Lady
Constance Culmington. It must be seven – no, eight years ago. She had then been going to
Italy to bask in the sun and be at one with Nature and the contadini. Later, he had heard,
she had proceeded to Syria where she proposed to bask in yet stronger sun and live at one
with Nature and the bedouin.
Constance Culmington, he reflected to himself, was exactly the sort of woman who would
buy an island and surround herself with mystery! Nodding his head in gentle approval of his
logic, Mr. Justice Wargrave allowed his head to nod… He slept…
Vera Claythorne, in a third-class carriage with five other travellers in it, leaned her head
back and shut her eyes. How hot it was travelling by train today! It would be nice to get to
the sea! Really a great piece of luck getting this job. When you wanted a holiday post it
nearly always meant looking after a swarm of children – secretarial holiday posts were much
more difficult to get. Even the agency hadn’t held out much hope.
And then the letter had come.
“I have received your name from the Skilled Women’s Agency together with their
recommendation. I understand they know you personally. I shall be glad to pay you the
salary you ask and shall expect you to take up your duties on August 8th. The train is the
12:40 from Paddington and you will be met at Oakbridge station. I enclose five pound notes
Una Nancy Owen.
And at the top was the stamped address Indian Island. Sticklehaven. Devon…
Indian Island! Why, there had been nothing else in the papers lately! All sorts of hints and
interesting rumours. Though probably that was mostly untrue. But the house had certainly
been built by a millionaire and was said to be absolutely the last word in luxury.
Vera Claythorne, tired by a recent strenuous term at school, thought to herself – “Being a
games mistress in a third-class school isn’t much of a catch… If only I could get a job at
some decent school.”
And then, with a cold feeling round her heart, she thought: “But I’m lucky to have even this.
After all, people don’t like a Coroner’s Inquest, even if the Coroner did acquit me of all
He had even complimented her on her presence of mind and courage, she remembered. For
an inquest it couldn’t have gone better. And Mrs. Hamilton had been kindness itself to her –
only Hugo – (but she wouldn’t think of Hugo!)
Suddenly, in spite of the heat in the carriage she shivered and wished she wasn’t going to
the sea. A picture rose clearly before her mind. Cyril’s head, bobbing up and down,
swimming to the rock… Up and down – up and down… And herself, swimming in easy
practised strokes after him – cleaving her way through the water but knowing, only too
surely, that she wouldn’t be in time…
The sea – its deep warm blue mornings spent lying out on the sands – Hugo – Hugo who had
said he loved her…
She must not think of Hugo…
She opened her eyes and frowned across at the man opposite her. A tall man with a brown
face, light eyes set rather close together and an arrogant almost cruel mouth.
She thought to herself:
“I bet he’s been to some interesting parts of the world and seen some interesting things…”
Philip Lombard, summing up the girl opposite in a mere flash of his quick moving eyes
thought to himself:
“Quite attractive – a bit schoolmistressy perhaps…”
A cool customer, he should imagine – and one who could hold her own – in love or war. He’d
rather like to take her on…
He frowned. No, cut out all that kind of stuff. This was business. He’d got to keep his mind
on the job.
What exactly was up, he wondered? That little Jew had been damned mysterious.
“Take it or leave it, Captain Lombard.”
He had said thoughtfully:
“A hundred guineas, eh?”
He had said it in a casual way as though a hundred guineas was nothing to him. A hundred
guineas when he was literally down to his last square meal! He had fancied, though, that the
little Jew had not been deceived – that was the damnable part about Jews, you couldn’t
deceive them about money – they knew!
He had said in the same casual tone:
“And you can’t give me any further information?”
Mr. Isaac Morris had shaken his little bald head very positively.
“No, Captain Lombard, the matter rests there. It is understood by my client that your
reputation is that of a good man in a tight place. I am empowered to hand you one hundred
guineas in return for which you will travel to Sticklehaven, Devon. The nearest station is
Oakbridge, you will be met there and motored to Sticklehaven where a motor launch will
convey you to Indian Island. There you will hold yourself at the disposal of my client.”
Lombard had said abruptly:
“For how long?”
“Not longer than a week at most.”
Fingering his small moustache, Captain Lombard said:
“You understand I can’t undertake anything – illegal?”
He had darted a very sharp glance at the other as he had spoken. There had been a very
faint smile on the thick Semitic lips of Mr. Morris as he answered gravely:
“If anything illegal is proposed, you will, of course, be at perfect liberty to withdraw.”
Damn the smooth little brute, he had smiled! It was as though he knew very well that in
Lombard’s past actions legality had not always been a sine qua non…
Lombard’s own lips parted in a grin.
By Jove, he’d sailed pretty near the wind once or twice! But he’d always got away with it!
There wasn’t much he drew the line at really…
No, there wasn’t much he’d draw the line at. He fancied that he was going to enjoy himself
at Indian Island…
In a non-smoking carriage Miss Emily Brent sat very upright as was her custom. She was
sixty-five and she did not approve of lounging. Her father, a Colonel of the old school, had
been particular about deportment.
The present generation was shamelessly lax – in their carriage, and in every other way…
Enveloped in an aura of righteousness and unyielding principles, Miss Brent sat in her
crowded third-class carriage and triumphed over its discomfort and its heat. Every one
made such a fuss over things nowadays! They wanted injections before they had teeth pulled
– they took drugs if they couldn’t sleep – they wanted easy chairs and cushions and the girls
allowed their figures to slop about anyhow and lay about half naked on the beaches in
Miss Brent’s lips set closely. She would like to make an example of certain people.
She remembered last year’s summer holiday. This year, however, it would be quite different.
Mentally she reread the letter which she had already read so many times.
Dear Miss Brent,
I do hope you remember me? We were together at Bellhaven Guest House in August some
years ago, and we seemed to have so much in common.
I am starting a guest house of my own on an island off the coast of Devon. I think there is
really an opening for a place where there is good plain cooking and a nice old-fashioned
type of person. None of this nudity and gramophones half the night. I shall be very glad if
you could see your way to spending your summer holiday on Indian Island – quite free – as
my guest. Would early in August suit you? Perhaps the 8th.
What was the name? The signature was rather difficult to read. Emily Brent thought
impatiently: “So many people write their signatures quite illegibly.”
She let her mind run back over the people at Bellhaven. She had been there two summers
running. There had been that nice middle-aged woman – Mrs. – Mrs. – now what was her
name? – her father had been a Canon. And there had been a Miss Olton – Ormen – No, surely
it was Oliver! Yes – Oliver.
Indian Island! There had been things in the paper about Indian Island – something about a
film star – or was it an American millionaire?
Of course often those places went very cheap – islands didn’t suit everybody. They thought
the idea was romantic but when they came to live there they realized the disadvantages and
were only too glad to sell.
Emily Brent thought to herself: “I shall be getting a free holiday at any rate.”
With her income so much reduced and so many dividends not being paid, that was indeed
something to take into consideration. If only she could remember a little more about Mrs. –
or was it Miss – Oliver?
General Macarthur looked out of the carriage window. The train was just coming into Exeter
where he had to change. Damnable, these slow branch line trains! This place, Indian Island,
was really no distance at all as the crow flies.
He hadn’t got it clear who this fellow Owen was. A friend of Spoof Leggard’s, apparently –
and of Johnny Dyer’s.
– One or two of your old cronies are coming – would like to have a talk over old times.
Well, he’d enjoy a chat about old times. He’d had a fancy lately that fellows were rather
lighting shy of him. All owing to that damned rumour! By God, it was pretty hard – nearly
thirty years ago now! Armstrong had talked, he supposed. Damned young pup! What did he
know about it? Oh, well, no good brooding about these things! One fancied things
sometimes – fancied a fellow was looking at you queerly.
This Indian Island now, he’d be interested to see it. A lot of gossip flying about. Looked as
though there might be something in the rumour that the Admiralty or the War Office or the
Air Force had got hold of it…
Young Elmer Robson, the American millionaire, had actually built the place. Spent
thousands on it, so it was said. Every mortal luxury…
Exeter! And an hour to wait! And he didn’t want to wait. He wanted to get on…
Dr. Armstrong was driving his Morris across Salisbury Plain. He was very tired… Success
had its penalties. There had been a time when he had sat in his consulting room in Harley
Street, correctly apparelled, surrounded with the most up-to-date appliances and the most
luxurious furnishings and waited – waited through the empty days for his venture to succeed
Well, it had succeeded! He’d been lucky! Lucky and skillful of course. He was a good man at
his job – but that wasn’t enough for success. You had to have luck as well. And he’d had it!
An accurate diagnosis, a couple of grateful women patients – women with money and
position – and word had got about. “You ought to try Armstrong – quite a young man – but so
clever – Pam had been to all sorts of people for years and he put his finger on the trouble at
once!” The ball had started rolling.
And now Dr. Armstrong had definitely arrived. His days were full. He had little leisure. And
so, on this August morning, he was glad that he was leaving London and going to be for
some days on an island off the Devon coast. Not that it was exactly a holiday. The letter he
had received had been rather vague in its terms, but there was nothing vague about the
accompanying cheque. A whacking fee. These Owens must be rolling in money. Some little
difficulty, it seemed, a husband who was worried about his wife’s health and wanted a
report on it without her being alarmed. She wouldn’t hear of seeing a doctor. Her nerves –
Nerves! The doctor’s eyebrows went up. These women and their nerves! Well, it was good
for business, after all. Half the women who consulted him had nothing the matter with them
but boredom, but they wouldn’t thank you for telling them so! And one could usually find
“A slightly uncommon condition of the – some long word – nothing at all serious – but it just
needs putting right. A simple treatment.”
Well, medicine was mostly faith-healing when it came to it. And he had a good manner – he
could inspire hope and belief.
Lucky that he’d managed to pull himself together in time after that business ten – no, fifteen
years ago. It had been a near thing, that! He’d been going to pieces. The shock had pulled
him together. He’d cut out drink altogether. By Jove, it had been a near thing though…
With a devastating car-splitting blast on the horn an enormous Super Sports Dalmain car
rushed past him at eighty miles an hour. Dr. Armstrong nearly went into the hedge. One of
these young fools who tore round the country. He hated them. That had been a near shave,
too. Damned young fool!
Tony Marston, roaring down into Mere, thought to himself:
“The amount of cars crawling about the roads is frightful. Always something blocking your
way. And they will drive in the middle of the road! Pretty hopeless driving in England,
anyway… Not like France where you really could let out…”
Should he stop here for a drink, or push on? Heaps of time! Only another hundred miles and
a bit to go. He’d have a gin and gingerbeer. Fizzing hot day!
This island place ought to be rather good fun – if the weather lasted. Who were these Owens,
he wondered? Rich and stinking, probably. Badger was rather good at nosing people like
that out. Of course, he had to, poor old chap, with no money of his own…
Hope they’d do one well in drinks. Never knew with these fellows who’d made their money
and weren’t born to it. Pity that story about Gabrielle Turl having bought Indian Island
wasn’t true. He’d like to have been in with that film star crowd.
Oh, well, he supposed there’d be a few girls there…
Coming out of the Hotel, he stretched himself, yawned, looked up at the blue sky and
climbed into the Dalmain.
Several young women looked at him admiringly – his six feet of well-proportioned body, his
crisp hair, tanned face, and intensely blue eyes.
He let in the clutch with a roar and leapt up the narrow street. Old men and errand boys
jumped for safety. The latter looked after the car admiringly.
Anthony Marston proceeded on his triumphal progress.