And Then There Were None [BBC Series]

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Review: 3.5/5

Number of episodes: 3

For any Agatha Christie fan, her work And Then There Were None would hold a very special place. In this review, I am going to stick to the series rather than babble my never ending amusement on the brains behind this story. This novel is creepy (It’s specialty!) and keeps you guessing right till the end. I felt chills while reading the book and I geared myself to view one of my favorite thrillers on screen. Did it live up to the book? Let’s find out.

First the premise. And Then There Were None is about ten unrelated people, invited by a Mr and Mrs Owen to their bungalow at a deserted island called Soldier Island. These ten people are from various fields and professions. We have a police in Blor, a doctor in Dr. Armstrong, a judge- Judge Wargrave, a teacher Miss Claythorne, a party boy Marston, a social activist Miss Brent, an army veteran General McArthur, playboy Lombard and the keepers of the house Mr and Mrs Rogers.  There is one curious question in everyone’s mind- Where is Mr and Mrs Owen, their employers/owners? As time progresses, one by one, people begin to die, or say murdered in gruesome ways. But by whom? Mr and Mrs Owen, who are probably hiding? Or is it one of the ten? Each one of them has committed a crime in their life which they are guilty off, which keeps haunting them. Who could possibly know about their past? Their crimes are their only connection. One of the highlights of this story is the old poem- Ten Little Soldiers went out to dine- which is framed and hung in almost everyone’s room and after every death (which happens according to the poem), one of the ten showpieces on the dining table goes missing! Phew!! Add to this, the frightening weather of lightning, rain and thunder. At the end, there is no one alive in the island. And Then There Were None. How?

The BBC adaptation of this marvelous story doesn’t score a perfect 5 but it’s not very bad either. The show captures the mood of the story accurately and the suspense and nervousness did grow on me while viewing, even though I knew the story. Most of the details were captured and used appropriately. The best part was, they didn’t try anything new but stuck to the original. I felt a little impatient at the beginning. A little more time than needed was taken to set the story. The flashbacks of every character was nicely done yet at some places the timing didn’t really work. Like, Blor having his flashback at the very end stuttered the pace. Also- I wish the ending could have been more powerful, a little more into how exactly the murders happened would have been nice. We have the confrontation but much is left for us to be understood. How did the killer make it happen? Wish it had been visually explained too. Too much time was given to Miss Claythorne’s backstory while we didn’t see much for the other important characters. The doubts and feuds between the characters could have been dealt with more clarity. There were lot of loose ends which I felt should have been tied up especially with how the killer timed every murder. I can’t reveal much here as that would give away the main plot. I know it’s not like the book is new or the show is- still I don’t like giving out spoilers (would make my post lengthy too LOL).

The actors were absolutely fantastic. General McArthur would always be my Alan Grant (Jurassic Park) and Judge Wargrave would be Tywin Lannister (GoT). Background music plays its role well. Costumes and the setting were apt.

Having read the book, I knew the ending. I think that kind of definitely influenced my watching?? May be I didn’t feel the needed suspense at certain points because I knew it was a bluff? Adapting a thriller, as a matter of fact, any book is difficult. It would definitely stand good for those who haven’t read the book. But for those who have read it- it becomes a mere comparison of how much effective the show stands to the book and if the show writers have done complete justice to the original author’s work. I would really appreciate this BBC adaptation for not trying too much with And Then There Were None. And Then…is more or less like a cult and is considered as one of Agatha Christie’s finest work if not the best. Even though, I am slightly disappointed with the impact of the ending- this series is still makes a great viewing.


Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter

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Rating: 3.5/5

Published in 1992

Even though there are multiple books releasing nearly every day, it’s a completely different kind of excitement to read old books. I haven’t read Ruth Rendell before and this book is the 15th in the Inspector Wexford series. I expected to feel lost about the characters but thankfully, the characters and their lives were understandable. It’s always great fun to read a proper police procedural. The police are as clueless as the readers and they stumble upon clues along with them. Every suspect intrigues them and drives them crazy with suspicion. Each officer has their own theory which they don’t themselves believe in. At the end, Inspector Wexford comes with the major confrontation putting all the pieces in place and solving all the clues.

Martin, a police officer, gets shot and killed in a bank robbery. After few months, a mass killing happens where a family of three are shot dead with one gravely injured. Inspector Wexford and his team suspect a strong connection between both the killings and try to derive the connection. The survivor, Daisy, helps the police as much as possible by providing all the details she could remember about the masked man who killed her family. Inspector Wexford likes Daisy a lot and finds a lot of similarities to his own daughter with whom he has a strained relationship. Daisy finds Wexford trustworthy and talks to him openly about her feelings. What was the motive behind the massacre? Robbery or Revenge? If revenge, by whom? Enemies of Daisy’s grandmother, or her mother or her stepfather? Wexford’s team sets off to find all those people connected to all the three victims and deduce who had the motive. Most of all, the team has to find why the murderer didn’t kill Daisy.

Rendell poses loads of questions throughout the story which stands as a reminder to the readers before they start investigating the case themselves. All the characters/suspects have either a motive or a poor alibi. The sudden change of Daisy’s attitude forces us to put her under the suspicion radar too. Since all the characters regularly feature in the chapters, they are nicely established. With several team meetings, the case and the progress are debriefed well too.

Inspector Wexford is a very interesting character. Family man in a happy marriage, such characters have become very rare now. Most of the lead investigators nowadays have a very tragic past. Wexford is a serious man. A good leader. He hears to the ideas of his team and doesn’t ignore it. He struggles maintaining good relationship with his daughters, mainly (probably, since I haven’t read the previous books) because of the nature of his job.

Daisy, the only surviving victim, is written with various shades. Rendell makes sure that Daisy isn’t easily understood. First, we see the shocked and physically worn out victim. Then we see Daisy with sympathy having lost her family. Daisy then turns as the sarcastic fighter of life. Then a loner. She then turns confused and mysterious. With her statements about the incident turning unsatisfactory, we along with the police get a tingling that may be she is hiding something. This sets the suspense needed for the story.

Yet, I didn’t feel completely satisfied when I put down this book. The excitement which was gathered through more than half way through the book began to sink slowly. As I mentioned before, all the characters and details were regularly mentioned, it actually became too repetive that the story began to stretch with no progress. Also, one of the major revelations for this story is how this massacre is connected to Martin’s murder. This connection was too very weak. Even the revelation by Wexford when he gives a Poirot like speech lacked the punch needed. I didn’t quite understand the reason for the title of the book till the end.

Having said this, a pat on the back to the author because I wasn’t able to guess the murderer correctly or the motive behind the murders.

I wouldn’t strongly recommend this book for two reasons. One, I am sure there are better books from the same author. Two, it’s an old publication and hence there are lot more better choices than this one.