Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Ten Little Indians has been a popular and critical success since its publication in 1939. This bestselling novel appeared during what critics determine to be Christie’s most productive period, from 1926 to the early 1950s. Many consider Ten Little Indians to be her best work.

Scholars note that Christie owes a debt to earlier crime writers such as Anna Katharine Green and Arthur Conan Doyle, yet most agree that she has had a tremendous influence on the crime novel genre. In British Writers Robin Winks observes her link to past works and her influence on future writers when he declares the novel to be “markedly tense, as close to a gothic thriller and modern suspense novel as the author would come.” He insists that “Christie was original because of the way in which she developed plot, unraveled motive, and put utterly fresh twists on timeworn devices.” He applauds her “quite remarkable ability to build motive, to misdirect the reader and to weave complex plots that turned and turned again.”

Commenting on her style, Winks suggests that Christie was “at her best a writer of clear and engaging prose, a gentle (and at times sly) social critic, and a master of that element so essential to storytelling—plot.” In his article on Ten Little Indians and Murder on the Orient Express for the Spectator, Anthony Lejeune writes that these works are “famous because each of them turns on a piece of misdirection and a solution which, in their day, were startlingly innovatory.” Ralph Partridge’s review in New...

(The entire section is 649 words.)