Vague invitations from U.N. Owen (aka unknown) are individually tailored to the recipients. Victims are stranded on an isolated island. Accused of murder by a phonograph recording on their first night, each dies within a week, method according to nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians" ("Niggers" alternate title).
Counting down each death, one corresponding glass miniature vanishes from the table center decoration. Tricksy plot allows perpetrator to differ in world's longest running popular stage (The Mousetrap) or screen versions.
Early on, having us see the invitation as credible in the eyes of the actual criminal, is a sneaky cheat by the author. Of course we mistakenly believe every point of view as innocent. Too much is made of everyone's overwhelming guilt, especially that of the final survivor. In all a fairly artificial construct with the dice loaded against readers' correct solution.
A hint, not a spoiler: the killer may
not be the last one. Or may? Suicide? Murder? Fake? "The Queen of Crime" strikes again. (view spoiler)[
Vital handsome Anthony Marston sped over two youngsters, choked on poisoned whiskey-soda. Married Rogers with-held heart medicine for ailing lady employer. Cook wife overdosed on sleeping medicine. Butler husband bashed on back of head with wood-cutting machine.
General Macarthur ordered his wife's lover on a fatal mission, shot in the head, stolen shower curtain as gown, grey wool as wig. Old Emily Brent evicted a pregnant maid who suicided; neck of rigidly self-righteous spinster injected with poison. Judge Wargrave advised a jury to sentence a presumed innocent, shot in head with guest's missing pistol, clothed in missing shower curtain as gown, grey wool as wig.
Rhyme has red herring out to sea. Dr Armstrong operating young and drunk, lost a patient, is drowned. Ex-cop Blore gave false evidence on prisoner who later died in jail; heavy clock fell from upper bedroom window onto his head below. Mercenary Captain Lombard WITH OTHERS, abandoned twenty lost Africans without supplies, shot in heart by own pistol. Governess Vera Claythorne swam ineffectively after her charge Cyril, apparently hung self, but chair replaced on wall. (hide spoiler)]
Agatha's independence shows, strong for 1939. Miss Williams the Crale governess: "Men have the best of this world. I hope it will not always be so .. I feel very strongly about the marriage tie. Unless it is respected and upheld, a country degenerates."
(This is the BIG Who-Dun-It (view spoiler)[
Confession in floating bottle explained. Judge terminally ill, set up situation, conspired with Doctor to fake own death; saw Vera shoot Lombard and hang self; arranged elastic and hanky to shoot self last. Go-between criminal given poison as indigestion remedy, severed last link to "Owen" identity. (hide spoiler)]Book Cover:
Inner endpapers of gold logo on navy hardcover Bantam Agatha Christie Mystery Collection, custom designed by Peggy Skycraft, shown only once alphabetically more first, under ABC Murders, The.http://www.goodreads.com/photo/work/6...