I only just now realized that Halloween is this coming weekend, so brace yourself for ALL MY R.I.P. READS at once. Knowing what the date is is not my forte.
Other Agathas I’ve read have been pleasant and plucky, with a mystery to be solved here or there, but this one is less Adventurous Scrapes and more Freaky Shit. Everyone is trapped on an ISLAND and people keep DYING in accordance with a NURSERY RHYME (nursery rhymes are second only to clowns on the Childhood Hauntery Scale).
Ok so. Don’t read the Cast of Characters at the beginning, because it’s a bit spoilery. DO read the Cast of Characters: Extended Version, i.e. Chapter One, where EVERYONE is introduced with, like, three paragraphs each. And there are ten everyones, and you are like, Crap, because it all seems SO IMPORTANT and Vera, for example, will suddenly have a flashback of young Cyril sinking between the waves, and then is all But I won’t think of that now! And you are like, That is a CLUE. Remember that. But don’t, ok? Just dog-ear the chapter, and then return to it when Blore says something like, Mustn’t appear shifty now, and then flip back and be all Ah yes, because he is some manner of spy.
But with this and that, through forged invite and advertised job position, all the everyones end up on Indian Island in a drafty old house and their hosts have just stepped off for a mo and then, over drinks, a DISEMBODIED VOICE accuses each everyone of having gotten away with muhhhhduhhh. *audible gasp, dropping of tea tray (because the two house-servants are likewise accused)*
And then characters drop like
flies little Indians let’s go with flies (ok, this book is from back when you could say ‘Indians’ and was initially titled Ten Little Indians because the poem ‘Ten Little Indians’ hangs in each character’s bedroom AND lists how they are all going to die [‘One choked his little self and then there were nine’ eg] but even typing the word ‘Indians’ this many times has made me feel EXTREMELY DODGY AND COLONIAL).
And no one can get off the island (lousy weather, treacherous rocks, boatlessness) and eventually they figure out that they are each going to be popped off by some mysterious vigilante who is probably also ONE OF THEM and at this point my power went out (which, fine, it was the middle of the day. But power outages are always sort of unsettling and you have to go around and turn all the switches and radios off because the moment when the power comes back on and everything in your house starts whirring again is the stuff of terror) and the whole thing is so masterfully RELENTLESS and TENSE because I had no idea who was doing the killings.
As Amanda so angrily points out, however, the last page has every idea, and IN BOLD, so do not casually flip to the end because the mystery will be spoilt for you. IN BOLD.
Best Christie I’ve read so far. This one R.I.P.s it up (on account of the systematic nursery rhyme killings eaeuuuugh).