The General’s strange premonition in the previous chapter now comes true – he is dead.

Justice Wargrave now becomes the closest thing we’ve seen to a detective in this story. Piece by piece, in true Poirot fashion (including having all suspects in one room), we are walked through the murders – trying different theories – trying to make them fit.

Of course, it leaves us more in the dark than ever – but it really does cover most of the possibilities of what could have happened.

Unless of course, something completely different happened, in which case, Agatha Christie is leading us all up the garden path.

We’ll know in a week and a half…

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6 thoughts on “And Then There Were None – Chapter 9 (3 Dead; 7 Alive)

  1. For me, this felt like the real beginning of the mystery. Even moreso than the last chapter.

    Everything’s out in the open (well, probably not really, but close enough). Everybody’s now fully aware that one of the remainder is a murderer. Everybody now has to come up with alibis, theories, defences, etc.

    Felt like this was the chapter that cranked things into gear.

    Also, just as a follow-up to yesterday’s theory that maybe there’s a second Mr Rogers (or, I suppose, a twin for anybody would work, but he’s the most likely candidate in my mind so far), I’m going to pay real close attention to the ‘red herring murder’. If that turns out to be Mr Rogers, then I’ll officially lock that theory in.

    If it doesn’t, then… I dunno. Maybe somebody else will come up with a better theory by then. Dave?

  2. Of course, having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if AC labeling the murder as a red herring was, itself, a red herring, which means that murder wouldn’t be a red herring at all.

    A meta-red herring, if you will.

    This is all your fault, Matt. If I was allowed to read on, I wouldn’t have the time to come up with all these stupid ideas.

  3. I think a second Rogers – particularly if one of them dies – is too cliched: the butler did it?

    I think the judge is looking pretty good to be the murderer.

    Though maybe “devil inside” is a clue, and the most unassuming character will be slipping in and out of lucidity.

  4. You’re probably right about the butler being a tad cliched. But I always find it difficult with older stories to determine whether things were cliches at the time they were written or whether they became cliches because of the stories at the time.

    (The first time I saw The Godfather, for example, I was amazed by how much of the movie had already seeped into my consciousness via parodies and tributes – I had to keep reminding myself that things like ‘making an offer he can’t refuse’ actually originated in the movie)

    And, yeah, the ‘devil inside’ reference caught my eye as well. Don’t really know what to make of it.

    I keep finding myself cheating and reasoning on a level beyond that of the actual story itself. ie, the fact that Matt’s raved so much about the book and that it’s generally so acclaimed implies (to me, anyway) that the answer must be something truly beyond the realm of an ordinary mystery.

    Hence my delving into notions such as identical twins and the murderer not knowing he/she’s a murderer and everybody murdering one other person and so forth.

    I’m quite sure if I was reading this book when it was first published, I wouldn’t be making so many wild guesses. But I can’t seem to ignore its reputation.

  5. Sorry, Dan, I’m hoping I’m not sending you into too much of a tailspin and I’m still not entirely sure how you will view it when you’re finished.

    Reputation-wise, it’s somewhat akin to “The Usual Suspects”. Anybody who watched that movie and didn’t see the ending coming will remember till the day we die how brilliant that film was.

    However, those few (at leas the ones I’ve met) who guessed quarter of the way through the film where it was all heading really don’t see what there is to write home about the whole thing.

    So it may be that with all your extravagant theories that one of them will turn out to be the right one (and I’m not going to say whether that is or is not the case), in which case you’ll be thinking, “Well, I figured that out halfway through – what a disappointment. That was kind of obvious.”

    For those of us who can’t work it out before all is revealed – we’ll probably be far more blown away.

    The only dilemma here is one of time – if you were reading the book in the space of a day, would you think less about it, and thus be less likely to guess it and think it was brilliant. Or, because I’m making you drag it out for three weeks, are you more likely to guess it and thus be more disappointed at the end?

    Hmm . . . guess we’ll know in another week.

  6. Yeah, I hear you on the The Usual Suspects front.

    I’ve long thought if you’ve got a story that’s big gimmick is some kind of ‘shock twist’, the only way to really make it work (for people who read/see it knowing there’s a big twist) is to have two twists.

    That way, once it’s publicised as a big twist movie, people who go in looking for twists will find the first, hopefully reasonably tricky, one, pat themselves on the back about how clever they are, then be blown away by the second one. (I think you mentioned that AC did something similar to this to you in a different story, Matt?)

    For example, Watchmen (um, spoilers follow, I guess, for anybody who hasn’t read it or seen the movie. If you haven’t read it or seen the movie, go away and read it before reading on. If you haven’t read it but have seen the movie, still go away and read it. But you can read the rest of this comment first – assuming you have any interest in doing so)

    In Watchmen, there’s a relatively small cast. It’s kind of a twist when you discover Adrian is the one behind it all, but not a huge one. If you’d been given the book and told ‘you won’t believe the twist at the end of this’, you might get to the bit where he’s revealed as the big bad, think to yourself ‘that’s kind of cool, but I saw it coming’.

    But the real big twist is the end of Chapter Eleven, where he reveals that the heroes can’t stop his nefarious plan… because he did it thirty-five minutes ago.

    And I’m pretty sure that blows everybody’s socks off. It certainly ranks as one of the best shocks I’ve ever experienced in a story.

    END SPOILER

    Anyway, as for this book, I don’t know how I’ll feel if I guess who did it. Even if there’s part of me that’s disappointed I worked it out, there’ll probably be another part rather pleased with myself. And another part that just enjoyed the whole slow process of reading a mystery one chapter at a time with plenty of thinking time in between. As I said in an earlier comment, I’ve never done that before, and I’m enjoying the process.

    So I doubt I’ll be unhappy come the end of next week.

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