This for me is probably the turning point chapter. Once the Island is explored, we, as readers, get an answer to the question we’ve all been wondering – is there anyone else on this Island? (This was the fatal mistake that Harper’s Island made – it had an island so big, there could have been hundreds of killers hiding in the woods.)
While, in real life, the characters may not have scaled halfway down a cliff-face or wandered around a house with a tape measure, this is typical Agatha Christie’s way of recognising that you readers are armchair detectives.
There was a particular genre of mystery at the time known as “locked room” mysteries, where somebody would be murdered in a closed space that only certain people could get in or out of. The limited space required the murderers to be clever and limited everything to a fair number of suspects.
Well, now we have the dimensions of our locked room. For anyone thinking, “There could be a secret compartment somewhere”, we now know there isn’t a secret compartment. For those thinking, “The murderer could be hiding in a cave,” there isn’t a cave.
There’s no one else on this island except for the eight characters remaining, and – as the final scene in the Rogers’ room reminds us – two corpses.
I also liked the characterisation of the General – while he’s really gone mad, he’s actually clearly seen what’s going to happen to everyone, and he’s just waiting for him. In fact, if you thought they were going to find him murdered when they walked up to him and he was sitting still – you were meant to. Death is in the air everywhere.
See you tomorrow!