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The main departure from conventional crime writing in ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie is the improbability of the plot. Most crime writers try to add credibility and gravitas to their tale by setting it in everyday, believable surroundings. Another example is the number of opportunities for collecting clues and helping to solve the murder. Christie’s story is short on detecting and big on theatrical settings, but there are many murders - almost too many to be believable, but the reader gets the sense that that is Ok because the writer is well-known and already established. Indeed the murders almost start to become a bit boring in the end because the flow becomes predictable. Dickens used periodicals to great effect to hook his readers but Christie tries to do this in a novel. However, her fans forgave her because of the fun of solving the intricate puzzle to reveal the culprit.
One example of the implausible nature of the writing is "the voice" which accuses the island visitors of misdemeanours in their past, ones which led to the deaths of others. The image has a ring of Judgement Day, Heaven and Hell about it and it proved fascinating to Christie’s fans, outfoxing many of them, to their delight. The interesting thing was that in their delight, they forgave Christie for the unlikeliness of the outcome and indeed the whole scenario as the book showed how ten island visitors who had been responsible for the deaths of others but managed to escape detection or punishment were accused of them once they got there. They accepted the invitations for different reasons, jobs, curiosity or pleasure-seeking. When the weather sets in, they can’t get off the island and one by one they are all murdered nursery-rhyme style. This mix of childish nostalgia and watered-down gruesome story-telling proved a lucrative and attention-grabbing formula for Agatha Christie and ‘And Then There Were None ‘ became a hit, becoming serialised and dramatised many times down the years. Many acclaimed the novel as one of Christie’s best, which was not that difficult as she was an erratic writer whose publisher did not seem to exert the right pressure on her in terms of exacting high writing standards at all times. She attracted notoriety by even disappearing herself, necessitating a country-wide search, a fitting stunt perhaps for a crime writer, but again, an unconventional one.
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