[Read as an audiobook from the public library]
I hesitated to add this one because it’s just so old, but I honestly enjoyed it when I listened to it in January and it kicked off a good fit of audiobook consumption so I thought, might as well.
My real introduction to Agatha Christie came with Phoebe Judge’s Phoebe Reads a Mystery podcast, when she read The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I have a collection of Christie mysteries knocking around the house somewhere, but I could never get into them in written form. I blame an early preference for Sherlock Holmes – everything later just doesn’t read correctly somehow. But I enjoyed that story enough and I was looking for something to listen to while fooling around on the phone, and I came across this book. “Performed by Dan Stevens.” Okay, sold.
And Dan really does perform this book. Like the best narrators, he does all the voices and makes each character so different that you never wonder who’s talking. And for a book with ten speaking characters, that’s definitely not nothing.
As for the plot, if you, like me, hadn’t read this before: Ten people are invited to Soldier Island under questionable circumstances and things pretty immediately go off the rails. It’s a pretty standard (these days) murder mystery, and by now even if you haven’t read the book you’re likely at least aware of a movie or other property that follows its basic elements. So it obviously suffers from being innovative enough in its time to be endlessly copied since to the point that the original now seems quaint and stale in comparison.
For all that, though, it’s a pretty tight little story that runs along pretty quickly. I was actually surprised by the ending, which I didn’t think would be possible in a book this old. Some of the characters have aged better than others, and CW for some pretty bald racism and antisemitism, and obviously violence. And if you don’t know the original title of the book…well, there’s no excuse for it. It’s had a couple of bad titles because white people are the worst, is all I can say.
If you’re in the mood for an audiobook and don’t mind a mystery, this was an enjoyable experience. The book is good, and Dan’s narration is excellent.