Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Break Book Six: And Then There Were None

                This isn’t technically the sixth book I’ve read over break. I started a translation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Misérables, and when I got halfway through, I realized I was reading an abridged version.
                I stopped immediately. I am now in the middle of a full-length, unabridged translation of Les Misérables, but before I picked that up at the bookstore, I filled my free time with this acclaimed crime novel.
                In And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie tells the story of ten people who travel to Indian Island on a vacation. But instead of warm sand, gentle waves, and a smiling sun (yes, I just used that cliché), they find murder. What’s more, they soon deduce that the killer is one of them.
                There’s a nursery rhyme called “Ten Little Indians” (an alternate title for the novel) that is quoted early on in the novel. I stuck a bookmark in that page, and kept turning back to it as I read further. Why? The rhyme foreshadows the plot of the entire book. And despite the fact that I knew, to some extent, what was going to happen next, I enjoyed trying to guess who the murderer might be.
                I can’t say the book was particularly thrilling. Sure, I wouldn’t have enjoyed being one of the ten trapped on the island, but the only thing that really drew me into the plot was curiosity as to which one of them had been murdering the others.
                I guess that’s how mystery novels are supposed to work. But I guess I’d expected a little something more from such a well-known and well-loved author.
                Pros:  It’s a quick read, and that’s nice. It’s a page-turner, I guess, mostly because I wanted to find out if my suspicions were right (after a couple of wrong guesses, I did figure out who the killer was). There’s nothing too confusing, and the epilogue does a good job of explaining the murderer’s motives and methods.
                Cons:  It’s not brilliant. It’s a simple plot, with simple characters and a simple conclusion. These aren’t bad things, I guess, but I’d rather read something that really draws me in, emotionally connecting me with characters and involving me in their situations. This didn’t do that for me.
                Conclusion:  This is a good choice if you want a quick escape into fiction that doesn’t really require a ton of thought. Just don’t expect to be blown away.
                Next up:  Julie Rose’s translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables… if I can get through its nearly 1,200 pages by the time Christmas break is over.

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