And we’re off! If you’ve never read a Christie before, she’s remarkably economical with her characterisations and words. In any of her novels, her characters exist for one purpose only – to be potential suspects. (Either that, or they’re the detective.)
So, one by one, we start meeting the ten suspects who will populate And Then There Were None. Let’s meet our line up, shall we?
1. Mr Justice Wargrave. A retired judge, it is he who provides us the background details on Indian Island. So all at once, the scene is set – the details are vague on this island. Nobody quite knows who owns it. But Mr Wargrave is carrying a letter from a Constance Culmington, who has invited him. All of this is mild background details, until we meet …
2. Vera Claythorne. Young, formerly a nanny – on the way to the same island for a nanny job. We quickly realise that she has no idea that a judge (or anyone else for that matter) is on their way to the island as well . . . the suspense grows. Note also the slight guilt over an incident with someone named Hugo. What’s the background there?
3. Philip Lombard (a Captain – army, perhaps). Here, in an example of the racial stereotypes that have (slightly) marred the reputation of this book, Lombard gets his orders to go to the island from a “little Jew”, Isaac Morris. Hopefully you can look past the descriptions of “thick Semitic lips” to start to wonder about what Lombard is being hired for . . .
4. Miss Emily Brent. Oddly enough, in ensemble-cast slasher films nowadays, stiff old women rarely feature – but they’re usually a regular appearance in Agatha Christie novels. It says something about this woman, that even though she’s not entirely sure who wrote the letter to her – the invitation was attractive enough to get her along.
5. General Macarthur. The old military general – again, the type of character that you see used a lot in Christie’s world. Note also, the hint of something having gone on 30 years ago . . . I love the layering of a good mystery. . . . everyone has a secret to hide – every hint of something going on is an avenue to be explore. And all of it will be paid off in the end . . .
6. Dr Armstrong. I don’t even think he has a first name. He’s just a doctor – like the General and Vera Claythorne, a scandal in the past. By now, our interest is piqued just to see what was the story that was spun for each individual to bring them to the island . . .
7. Tony Marston And Tony – he who drives a fast car and likes to hob nob with the rich and famous . . . What is his back story?
8. Mr Blore Finally, we meet the mysterious Mr Blore, who is not what he appears – and, most importantly, appears to be the only one of our cast so far who knows who everyone else is . . . He also dropped the names of our final two, Mr and Mrs Rogers, whom we will meet very shortly.
There you have it – the cast is almost assembled. Who would you pick as a killer out of that line-up? See you tomorrow for Chapter Two!