In many ways, the best thing to come out of this novel getting renamed as And Then There Were None is that it sets up a promise that – staggeringly – gets delivered in the final chapter.
We could believe, when it just came down to Vera and Lombard (why does he always get referred to by his last name, but she always gets referred to by her first?) that Lombard was it. Like Vera, we instantly see the wolf snarl and the cunning as the mark of a man who could cold-bloodedly pick off eight people one by one.
But then – the magnificent twist: the countdown goes down to zero. I remember I read this novel out loud to my sister when I was a teenager and at the time, none of us knew how it was going to end. And we hit this chapter, and it really just set my teenage brain reeling.
What on earth happened here? Did I really read what I thought I read?
For my money, it’s one of the greatest “What the…?” moments in storytelling history. The rug has been completely ripped out from under us. We know what we’ve witnessed – but we understand none of it.
And it is in that state of confusion, that Agatha Christie rolls out the Epilogue. I’ll see you tomorrow night for that one …