Mr Justice Wargrave – Had worked as a Judge for many years and had a fine reputation all over the country. He had killed several people by giving them the death sentence one of them is Edward Seton. Seton was probably innocent.
Vera Claythorne – Worked as a Schoolmistress. Her crime was killing Cyril Ogilvie Hamilton, by not trying to help him by while he was about to drown. She was his nanny.
Philip Lombard – Explorer, that has travelled all around the world. Was known as a man that you can rely on in stressful situations. He killed 21 men of an East African tribe by leaving them when mercenaries attacked their village.
Miss Emily Brent – Was an old cynical lady. Because of her a girl named Beatrice Taylor killed herself by jumping from a bridge. She was working with Emily as a maid. And when she got pregnant Emily froze her out.
General Macarthur – An old General who sent a man named Arthur Richmond to a certain death when he found out that he was having an affair with his wife.
Dr Armstrong – He owned a practice and was very popular in the upper class of England. He accidentally killed Louisa Mary Clees. He operated her while he was drunk and she died because of that.
Tony Marston – A man in his mid twenties, very handsome and popular around women. He drives very carelessly and ran over John and Lucy Combes. They both died.
Mr Blore – A former inspector at Scotland yard. Because of him James Stephen Landor died. He killed himself after being sent to prison innocent. Blore planted the evidence against Landor.
Mr and Mrs Rogers – They worked as servants. Were married. They worked for Jennifer Brady. Jennifer was a sick old Lady and giving her, her medicine, was a part of their job. One time they didn’t give it to her and they inherited a lot of money.
One day in August, eight people got a mysterious letter. Eight strangers, all carry a well-hidden secret.
They are all invited to Nigger Island, an island that was very famous for people who like to read gossip magazines. The Island is located right outside the Devon coast, and is called Nigger Island ’cause the island is shaped like a head with the lips of a Negro. They all arrive on time but the weather is terrible and the women are a bit anxious about being on the Island since there’s a storm coming. When they get to the Island, they find out that their host and hostess are delayed. They aren’t alone on the Island. The Owens has hired two servants, Mr and Mrs Rogers. Including them, they are ten people. Mr and Mrs Rogers serve a fantastic dinner, and serve them drinks afterwards. While Mr Rogers serves them the drinks, they hear a mysterious voice. The voice accuses every one of them of a terrible crime: MURDER!
Mrs Rogers fainted of the shock. They tried to find out where the voice came from, and discovered that it’s a gramophone put up against the wall in the adjoining room. They are all very upset, and that’s why no one thinks it’s a murder when Anthony Marston dies just a few minutes later. He choked of his drink, said the doctor, then he gave Mrs Roger a sleeping drug and sent her to bed. That’s how the terrible story began.
The others sat up late discussing the mystery about all this. First the very vague invitation, then the voice and their missing host and hostess. They also discuss the letters, and discover that there are different senders. The sender is always a U.N. Owen = unknown. And why the shower curtains were missing.
Early next morning Dr Armstrong woke up by someone knocking on his door. It was Mr Rogers, something was wrong with his wife. He couldn’t wake her. When Dr Armstrong takes a look at her, he sees that she’s dead. Probably heart failure, he can’t know for sure without his medical instruments. That’s why nobody thinks the second death is a murder. But when General Macarthur dies from a hard hit in the back of his head while he’s sitting on the beach, they start to wonder. After discussing the evidence, (as Judge Wargrave calls it) they come to the conclusion, that Mr unknown is one of them. The weather is so bad that no one could be able to get out to the island. Not even the daily boat with groceries came.
The next on the list was Mr Rogers. He was out chopping wood for the fireplace when someone almost cut his head of with an axe. The men found him a few hours later, when they wondered why he hadn’t woken them up. Suddenly Vera remembered something: The old nursery jingle.
Ten little nigger boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little nigger boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little nigger boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little nigger boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little nigger boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little nigger boys going in for law;
One got into Chancery and then there were four.
Four little nigger boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little nigger boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little nigger boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little nigger boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself and there were none.
My God, he was killing by the jingle! Anthony Marston choked, Mrs Rogers overslept, General Macarthur stayed on the coast of Devon and Mr Rogers was chopping up sticks. Another weird thing is the tray with the adornment little nigger boys, in the dining room. After each death there’s one missing. And no one notices until after the second death.
The fifth to be killed was Miss Emily Brent. She was sitting alone in the dining room, when the killer struck. She was half-asleep from a sleeping drug, which the killer had slipped into her coffee, when she was killed with a cyanide injection.
Vera came to fetch her, but when she heard a bumblebee buzzing, she knew what had happened. Now there were only five of them left.
I guess there’s no need to say that the atmosphere was very tensed and they were all very frightened. Vera went to bed early that night, and no one had to tell her to lock her door carefully. The men remained downstairs talking. They were trying to figure out how they all could be lured into this mess. Philip Lombard had been asked to come to protect Mrs Unknown jewellery, he had even brought a gun. While they were talking Vera went into her room, but suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She screamed and in a second or two, the men broke into her room. They turned on the lights, and discovered that the hand was seaweed hanging from the ceiling, but something else was wrong. Someone was missing…the Judge. When they got to the living room he was sitting in a chair, with a judge wig and robe. It was Emily’s missing yarn and the shower curtain. He was dead, shot in the head, probably with Mr Lombard’s gun. Mr Lombard, was now a suspect. So they put all lethal weapons and drugs into a box with a lock on it, and then put the box in a chest that also had a lock on it. They gave one key to Mr Lombard, and the other one to Mr Blore. So if someone wanted to open the boxes they had to have both keys.
That night Vera went to bed feeling a bit safer. She thought the boat would come in the morning, and with all dangerous weapons locked up, they would survive the night…no doubt.
Mr Blore was determined not to fall asleep. So he lay on his bed waiting for something to happen. And his waiting paid of. Around half past two, he heard footsteps outside his door. He sprung to his feet; noiseless he opened the door, just in time to see doctor Armstrong walk out the front door. He went to fetch Lombard and together they searched for Dr Armstrong. When the morning came, the two men were sure that Dr Armstrong was the killer. They woke Vera up and told her what had happened during the night. The Island was very small and bare, so there’s no place to hide except or the house. They figured that there was nothing left to do, so they went down to the bridge and waited for the boat. They knew who the killer was, they had searched the whole island last night without finding him and Lombard had his gun with him. It was finally over…they thought.
In good faith, Mr Blore went up to the house to get them something to eat. After a while Vera and Lombard wondered were he were, and went up to the house to look for him. They found him dead, hit in the head by a stone statue formed as a bear. The statue had fallen from the window above. Now they knew who the killer was. It was Dr Armstrong and this proved that he was still alive.
Vera and Lombard went for a walk on the cliffs, they figured they would be safer there. Because there they could se him coming long before he could get to them. Suddenly Vera saw something in the water. It was stuck between two rocks. They went down to look at it and when they got closer they realised it was a human body. They pulled up the body and when they saw whom it was Lombard pulled his gun. It was Dr Armstrong! With only two people alive on the island they knew that it had to be one of them. Vera insisted that they should lay Armstrong’s body over the high tide mark. The body was heavy, and while Lombard was busy with the body Vera stole his gun. They struggled with the gun for a few minutes and suddenly the gun went off. Lombard fell dead to the ground. Vera went up to the house. In every guestroom she saw a dead body on the bed: first Anthony Marston, then Mrs Rogers, General Macarthur, Mr Rogers, Miss Brent and Judge Wargrave. She felt very tired, though she hadn’t eaten anything all she could think of was to go to sleep. She went into her room. In the middle of the room there was a noose hanging from the roof with a chair under. She climbed up the chair a put the noose around her neck like she was in a trance. Then she kicked the chair away.
People on shore had been told that there was going to be a test on the island, to see how people react when they are marooned on an island for a week. That’s why the boat didn’t come. But after a few days they started to wonder. When the boat got there, all they found were dead bodies and the worst crime mystery England ever seen. They knew the order of the crimes, cause Vera had written a diary and they knew the time of death of Lombard. The rest they could figure out. Vera hanged herself, but normally the chair would lie on the floor, but it was neatly put upright in a corner. And the gun lying in the hallway. The police were puzzled but everything solved when a fisherman found a message in a bottle.
The Judge, Mr Justice Wargrave, had written the message. This is the content of the letter:
He was the murderer, and the reason that he killed all those people was because ha had always felt a need for killing. But he also had a strong sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. And one day when he was talking to his colleagues they discussed that there must be a lot of crimes that the law can’t touch. Crimes like death help and car accidents often can’t be proved. In his mind he came up with a plan. A plan that would help him convict murderers. He loured nine people to the island including him they would be ten. Finding the people wasn’t very hard. He asked people he’d met a few questions, and without knowing it people told him exactly what he wanted to know. He chose the Nigger Island cause the name fitted with the old nursery jingle he had learned at school as a child. Slipping cyanide in Tony Marston’s drink wasn’t difficult, ’cause at that time no one suspected murder, same thing with Mrs Rogers. General Macarthur was also an easy target while he was sitting alone on the beach. Everyone was asleep when he killed Mr Rogers and Miss Brent wasn’t suspecting anything when he put sugar in her coffee. And by the time he gave her the lethal dose of cyanide, she was to affected by the drug to notice him. He engineered his own death with the help of Dr Armstrong. He told him that he knew a way to find out who the murder was. They would convince the others that he was dead so he could snoop around without anyone knowing. All the doctor had to do was to say that he was dead, and ketchup did the trick with the bullet hole. He told the Doctor that he wanted to meet him on the cliffs later. When the good doctor came, he was pushed into the ocean. No one could she him when he threw the bear of stone at Blore. Vera took care of Lombard and herself. All he had to do was to put the chair back, and then take his own life. And he built some kind of catapult to throw the gun into the hallway after he had taken his own life. But first, he wrote this letter.
There’s really not much to write about the characters, because Agatha hasn’t written much about them. Just their actions and reactions, not much about their appearances.
I think that her main reason about the book was just to entertain people, to give us something scary to read. The book is realistic but it in the same time it’s not. I wouldn’t be surprised if some maniac really did something like his, not in Sweden though.
Agatha Christie has written the book from an observer’s point of view. But she also get individual sometimes, you know what Vera’s thinking when she writes in her diary and so on. The book is written in old-fashioned everyday English speech. For example: Fancy a drink ehh?
My thoughts about the book:
I liked the book but I don’t think it’s one of her best. I’ve read quite a few but I liked the other ones better.
I can’t say that the novel has effected me, not like On the beach. After that book I started o think about world peace and things like that, but as I said this isn’t likely to happen in Sweden.
I don’t know what else to say, I liked the book, it didn’t affect me in any special way and I can’t recognise their feelings in my own life.
Agatha Christie is famous throughout the world. She has written 78 crime novels, 19 plays and 6 novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott. Her books have sold billions of copies in English and another billion in 44 other languages. Her last published book, sleeping murder, was published in 1976. Staring: Miss Marple, one of two persons that she often used in her books. The other one is Hercule Poirot. Hercule was a detective and Miss Marple was an old lady who kept her eyes open and had a sense for details. They always solved their murders.
She was born in Torquay, and were married to Sir Max Mallowan, archaeologist.