Hi, everyone. My name is Katie, and each week I’m going to give you my totally unbiased perspective of a book I didn’t read based on an interview I had with a Friends of the Library volunteer. Although the books discussed are very real and definitely read by my interviewees, they are most certainly not read by me.
For this interview, I spoke to a bookstore volunteer named Ray.* Right away, Ray said he would be interested in doing the interview. However, when I began asking him about the book we would be reviewing, Ray disclosed that it had been six months since he had read it and that, no, he did not remember a single character’s name...or much of the plot. As I sit here typing this, Ray and I are taking a break so that he can go back and re-read a summary of the plot.
(Sentences and words in bold type are my own commentary. I hope you find it as amusing and disruptive as it was intended to be.)
*name was changed in order to salvage employee’s dignity
The name of this week’s book is “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie.
Me: So, what’s the name of the book we’re going to be talking about today?
Ray: “And Then There Were None.”
Ray: By Agatha Christie.
Me: But what’s the name of the book?
Ray: “And Then There Were None.”
Take a deep breath, Katie. It’s too early to be confused.
Me: Is this a joke? Because you’re laughing–or is something else funny?
We pause to collect ourselves.
Me: What kind of a book is this? What’s the genre?
Me: And what made you choose this genre and book in particular?
Ray: She’s a well-known mystery novel writer.
Me: Yeah, but what made you choose this book?
Ray: This is one of her best-selling novels.
Me: Yeah, but what made you choose Agatha Christie?
Ray: I like the mystery genre.
Ray begins to laugh. It is unclear whether or not this is directed at me or at the situation. This would also be a good time to tell you that I did this interview with my brother, so, yes–he was and would continue to mess with me.
Me: Now tell me what this dang book is about. What’s the gist of it?
Ray: Um...basically, these people are asked to come visit an island...a vacation or [employment opportunity] of sorts [that they each “won”]...and they don’t really know what the purpose of them being there is, but they were invited. And while they’re there, people [from the group] start disappearing one by one from the mansion they’re in. Each of them dies a horrible, gruesome death.
Me: What’s stopping them from leaving the island?
Ray: I think there was a...lack of transportation off the island. Sounds like “Shutter Island,” but it’s not.
Me: Are you reading me the plot of “Shutter Island?”
Me: Alright–so these people come to the island, start disappearing, start dying off...who are the main characters here?
Ray: It’s been like six months since I’ve read the book.
Me: Oh, no...I feel like this is happening more and more. At first, everyone’s so upfront about what they’ve read, but as soon as I ask the name of the main character…
Me: Ok, fine–we’ll Google it.
I then ask Ray if he remembers any of the characters’ backstories. He says no. I ask if he remembers anything else about them. He says no.
Me: What’s the breaking point? People are being killed left and right, but is there a shift–a climax, anything like that?
Ray: No real breaking point or shift...or climax. People just keep disappearing and dying in mysterious ways.
Me: Do you remember any of the mysterious ways?
Ray: But they do eventually realize that one of the people in the group actually is the murderer.
Me: Did you have any ideas about whodunnit in the beginning?
Ray: I did not.
Me: I’m assuming we eventually find out who the killer is, yes?
Me: That seems like it could be some sort of a climax.
Ray: It’s at the very end.
Another dead end (another great pun).
Me: Seems like we have the beginning of the book and the end. What happens in the rest of the book? This interview is going so well...
Ray: Umm...it’s just…
Me: A long description of how ten people die?
At this point Ray said he needed to call me back.
Me: Are you there?
Me: Why don’t I see you (we were FaceTiming)?
Ray: I’m reading a description of the book.
He was reading an online description of the book.
Me: (Ten minutes later) Now that you’ve had time to brush up on some finer details...tell me more.
Ray: So another detail I remember is there were these ten figurines placed on the dining room table in the mansion, and every time someone in the house was murdered, one of the figurines was found knocked over.
Me: And do you remember anything more specific about any of the characters or their deaths? Did anything in your re-reading of the plot stick out to you?
Me: Can I...know what it is?
Ray: Yeah. This is like the sixth death or so. [The group] found that one girl named Emily died in the kitchen after she was injected with potassium cyanide–poison. One of the inhabitants of the house, Justice Wargrave, recommended that everyone search the rooms and find anything else that may be dangerous and lock it up. One girl goes into a room where she finds a bunch of seaweed hanging from the ceiling, so she starts shrieking, and all the other guests, except for Justice Wargrave, rush up to her room. When they all go back downstairs, they find the Justice in his seat, not moving, and with a gunshot wound in his head.
Me: Did you read that word for word from a website?
Ray: Nah–I paraphrased.
Ray: I think the element of distraction was interesting.
Me: Was there a lot of that in the book?
Ray: Yeeeh (this meant yes).
If you plan on reading this book, I’m about to release a major spoiler. You have been warned to shut the computer now!
After juicing as many details out of my brother as I could, I found out that the killer was in fact Justice Wargrave. The justice apparently knew that all these people were guilty of crimes for which they were never convicted, so he took it upon himself to exact revenge. I also found out that the killer had terminal cancer, so he didn’t really care what happened to him in the end.
Me: Any other details you want to mention?
Ray: Oh yeah–now I remember. There was a record player at the beginning that played a song where the words said how ten people would die, but no one paid attention to that.
Me: Any overarching themes, messages, ideas you got from reading this?
Ray: You shouldn’t fully trust any offers for easy employment or vacation. Also...I don’t know.
Me: Any...deeper messages?
Ray: I didnt give you my actual lesson learned because you interrupted. So my actual lesson learned is um...um...if you’re in a house with several people and theyre all being killed left and right and they only die in circumstances under which one person is left alone, you probably shouldnt leave yourself alone.
Me: Now, who would you recommend this to?
Ray: Anyone interested in getting away with murder.
Me: You think this is a good guide?
This was concerning.
Me: Anything you’ll be reading coming up?
Ray: The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It’s an FBI thing.
Me: An FBI thing...Anyway, thanks, Ray. I really appreciate it.
And I did.