Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE should be very close to the top of any mystery fan's "must read list." The novel concerns a group of ten previously unacquainted people who are lured via various pretexts to Indian Island, a resort home off the coast of Devon--and are promptly accused by their unseen host of having escaped punishment for past crimes. Cut off from the world and fighting rising panic, they scramble to unmask the killer even as their number is reduced in macabre accordance with the "Ten Little Indians" nursey rhyme displayed in rooms throughout the house.
Agatha Christie was already famous when AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (also known under the title TEN LITTLE INDIANS) was published--but this book put her career well over the top: nothing like it had seen before, it proved a sensation, and writers and film-makers continue to use Christie's basic idea to this very day. Some critics argue the novel is mechanical rather than organic, but I say if this is mechanical, let's have more of it! It is truly a can't-put-it-down, non-stop read, a spectacular turn by the genre's single most celebrated author.
The success of the novel inspired Christie to adapt it for the stage, where it was a tremendous success, and there have been several film versions (most notably the 1940s Rene Clair-directed AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) over the years. If you know the story only from stage and film versions, however, you are in for a surprise. Christie felt the novel's conclusion did not translate well to the stage, so she re-wrote it--and most film versions follow the stage script, not the novel. But whether you've seen the play and films or not, get ready for a shock!