I’m not sure how influential this book was on all the slasher thrillers which followed up to our present day – and I would like to see someone have a go one day at filming this as a slasher film, complete with scary music and “jump” scenes – but it follows the very familiar tradition of setting up the location.
It’s a desolate rock with a house on it, and that’s about it. I won’t go into rant mode again, but this is so much more satisfactory than the Harper’s Island set up, where the island was so big, there could have been half a dozen psychopaths hiding out in the trees, and you would never have known. But here the location is limited, and this creates a certain tension in itself.
We also meet our final two characters:
9) Mr Rogers – The quiet butler. He doesn’t know what’s going on. The mysterious Mr Owen is nowhere to be seen, and no one seems to have met him, so we are all in the dark.
10) Mrs Rogers – The terrified housemaid. What does she know? What is she scared of?
The rest of this chapter is just clever atmosphere building. Hardly a word is wasted. As soon as the boatman says that the island can be cut off from the mainland for a week at a time, we know that these people are in serious trouble.
Combine that with the creepy old children’s poems about the The Ten Little Indians (or whatever particular racial stereotype you might have in your version), and you might as well have a skywriter spelling “DOOM” in big letters over the top of the house.
My final question for today is – whatever happened to creepy children’s poems? The ones you get nowadays are so much more sanitised than they used to be. I was reading Hans Christian Andersen’s “Tin Soldier” to my daughter the other day and realised that I was so brainwashed by the Disney version on Fantasia 2000, that it came as a shock to me when the tin soldier and the paper princess were both chucked in a fire at the end and burned up . . . ah, the good old days.
Anyway, I’ll remedy that by reading my kids And Then There Were None as soon as they are old enough to understand it. See you tomorrow, and feel free to chip in with the person (or persons!) that you suspect.