Part 1 Summary
In Ten Little Indians Christie creates a masterpiece of mystery and murder. After ten strangers gather together on an isolated island off the coast of Devon, England, one by one, they each are discovered murdered. As those remaining frantically search for the murderer, their own guilty pasts return to haunt them.
Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, travels by train to Devon where he will be taken by boat to Indian Island. Seven others are also on their way there, most invited by a Mr. or Mrs. Owen. Vera Claythorne, a young, attractive teacher was hired through a letter from Una Nancy Owen for a short stint as a secretary. Captain Philip Lombard is not sure why he has been assigned to the island, other than to hold himself “at the disposal of a client.” Miss Emily Brent, an elderly woman, has been invited by letter by someone she met years ago at a guesthouse. General Macarthur, retired from service, was invited by “a man named Owen” to “chat about old times” and Dr. Armstrong was asked by letter to treat Mrs. Owen’s medical condition. Dashing young Tony Marston also received a letter from the Owens inviting him to the island. None of them, however, are very clear about who the Owens are. While Mr. Blore travels by train to the island, he writes down the names of the seven people we have just met along with two servants, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, and decides to pretend to be a Mr. Davis. As Fred Narracott, a local sailor, takes them all to Indian Island by boat, Vera notes “there was something sinister” about it and “shivered faintly.”
After they arrive at the island, Mr. Rogers, the butler, tells them that Mr. Owen has been “unfortunately delayed” and will not appear until the next day. Mrs. Rogers, the cook, shows them to their rooms and they later reunite for dinner where they discover ten little china Indians on a table. They also note that the “Ten Little Indians” nursery rhyme is framed...
(The entire section is 814 words.)
Part 2 Summary
After they all agree to leave in the morning when Narracott comes in the boat with supplies, Marston gulps down his drink, chokes, and falls down dead. The others decide he must have committed suicide by putting something into his drink. After they go to bed, some think about the accusations against them. Wargrave insists Seton was guilty, but Macarthur admits that he deliberately sent Richmond to his death after discovering his affair with his wife. In the morning they discover Rogers’s wife dead and only eight Indian figures left on the table. They note that the deaths of Marston and Mrs. Rogers fit the descriptions in the nursery rhyme. When the boat doesn’t come, they realize they are trapped on the island. Emily later admits to Vera that when Beatrice Taylor, her servant, got pregnant, Emily fired her and she committed suicide. Emily, though, reiterates her own innocence. Lombard, Blore, and Armstrong search the island and the house for Mr. Owen but find nothing. When they conclude that there is no one else on the island except the eight of them, they become terrified and start to suspect each other.
In the afternoon the General is found dead, hit on the back of the head. That evening as a storm rages outside, they eye each other suspiciously. The next morning they find Rogers murdered while chopping wood and note that after each murder, an Indian figure disappears. Later, Blore admits to Lombard that Landor was innocent and that he had been coerced into framing him. After...
(The entire section is 619 words.)