Ten little niggers
Mystery (detective); Ten people died and nobody knows, at that time (read 'sub plots'), how and why
An omniscient narrator; Christie tells the story and, of course, she knows what will happen style: it is an easy novel to read and in someway a 'business-like' novel. Also an easy choice of word
Justice Wargrave: a retired judge
Vera Claythorne: a young teacher at a girl's school
Philip Lombard: traveller and adventurer
Miss Emily Brent: a religious old lady, the daughter of a colonel
Gen. John G. Macarthur: a retired army officer
Dr. Edward G. Armstrong: a wealthy society physician
Anthony Marston: a handsome young bachelor, fond of driving fast cars
William H. Blore: calls himself Davies; an ex-policeman who runs a detective agency
Thomas & Ethel Rogers: servants on Nigger Island Less important: Fred Narracott: boatman; he doesn't stay on the island (minor character)
There aren't any key moments, because there isn't a change in the story
Sub plots used
There is a sub plot after Vera's death: the police comes but they are in a completely loss. The real plot is the discovery of the letter in the bottle, which had been written by Justice Wargrave, the murderer!
Eight people have been invited to come to Nigger Island for a few days. Six are coming by train, and two, Dr Armstrong en Anthony Marston are driving. Their invitations are all different, but each has accepted because the invitation seemed to offer them exactly what they most wanted at the moment. In spite of many rumours, nobody knows who owns the romantic island and its luxurious villa. Mr Blore, who has a list of the guests, decides to pretend to be a South African. Taxis take the guests from the train station to the village of Stickleham, where Fred Narracot is waiting to ferry them to the islands in his boat. On the island they're greeted by two servants, Mr and Mrs Rogers, but their host and hostess aren't present. In her room, Vera finds a nursery rhyme hanging on the wall. It's about ten little nigger boys who disappear one after another until there are none left.
A fine dinner is served. Then, suddenly, a loud voice's heard accusing each of the ten people present of having murdered someone. Mrs Rogers faints. Rogers explains that the voice came from a record that he had put on the gramophone, in accordance with written instructions from his employer. When they've recovered from the shock, the guests discuss and compare their invitations. Most of them are signed by a U.N. Owen, whose name resembles the word 'unknown'! Justice Wargrave assumes the leadership in their discussions. He remarks that the invitations prove that 'Owen' took the trouble to find out a lot about each of the guests. Then each person explains the 'murder' he has been accused. Wargrave explains that he was the judge at the trial of Edward Seton, and that Seton was, quite rightly, found guilty and executed. Armstrong who remembers the Seton case, secretly thinks that Wargrave's lying. Vera Claythorne explains that the boy Cyril was drowned while in her charge, but no one blamed her for the accident. General Macarthur explains that Arthur Richmond was an officer of his who died on a reconnaissance he ordered during the First World War. He denies that Richmond was his wife's lover. Philip Lombard describes how he deliberately left 21 natives to die in the jungle without food. He doesn't feel guilty about it. Anthony Marston confesses that he ran over two children in his car; it was just bad luck. Rogers confesses that an old woman that he and his wife were taking care of, suddenly died one night, leaving them something in her will. Blore says he was only doing his duty in giving the evidence that led to the convection of the bank robber Landor, who died in prison a year later. Armstrong pretends not to remember Louisa Mary Clees, but secretly he remembers how he caused her death because he was drunk when he operated on her. Only Miss Brent refuses to say anything at all about the crime she's accused of. Wargrave suggests that they all leave the islands in the morning. Suddenly, Anthony Marston chokes on his drink and drops dead.
Dr Armstrong discovers that Marston's drink was poisoned. Later, as he prepares for bed, Wargrave remembers how he saw to it that Seton was convicted. Rogers, clearing the table in the dining room, notices that one of the china figures is missing. Macarthur lies awake, remembering how he discovered the love affair between his wife and Richmond, and sent Richmond to his death. He still feels guilty; it'll be a relief if his life ends on the island. Vera remembers how she deliberately gave Cyril permission to swim across a dangerous stretch of water. She knew that if the boy drowned, his uncle Hugo, whom she loved, would inherit a fortune. But after Cyril's dead, Hugo had apparently suspected her and hadn't wanted to see her again. She notices the resemblance between the nursery rhyme on the wall and the situation on the island. The next morning Mrs Rogers's found dead in her bed. No boat arrives from the mainland. Rogers discovers that there are only eight china figures left on the table.
Miss Brent tells Vera how she dismissed her servant girl for bad morals, because she was pregnant. The girl, who had nowhere to go, committed suicide. Lombard and Armstrong discuss the situation and decide that Marston and Mrs Rogers are murdered by some lunatic who has invited them to punish them for crimes the law hasn't been able to reach. A thorough search of the island reveals that there's no one on it except themselves. One of the eight must be the murderer. General Macarthur doesn't come in for lunch. He's found dead, hit on the head from behind. Another china figure's missing. Any one of the seven could've done three murders. Everyone's afraid and suspicious of the others. Lombard thinks that Wargrave is the murderer and Vera believes it's Armstrong. Outside, the storm rages. In the morning, no breakfast has been prepared and another china figure's missing. Rogers' body's found in the wash house, where he'd been chopping wood. He was killed with an axe. Vera gets hysterical when she thinks about how the nursery rhyme's working out. The next victim's Miss Brent, who's given a deadly injection. Later, the hypodermic needle and the sixth china figure are found outside the dining room window. The five remaining people search each other's rooms and bodies. All drugs are locked away, but Lombard's revolver's nowhere to be found.
The five remaining people are like frightened animals, fighting for their lives. They agree to stay together, with only one person leaving the room at a time. When Vera goes to her room, she smells sea air and feels a hand strangling her. The others come running at her screams and find that it's just seaweed hanging from a large black hook in the ceiling. Suddenly they notice that Wargrave isn't there. They find him downstairs, shot through the head, wearing a wig of wool and a red curtain for a robe. The four go to bed, each locking himself in. In the night Blore hears footsteps. Armstrong's room's empty. Blore and Lombard can't find him anywhere. There are only three china figures left. In the morning the weather's calm and sunny. Vera, Lombard and Blore decide to stay outdoors, where they feel safer. But when Blore goes to the house for food, he's killed by a heavy marble clock falling on him from a upstairs window. Lombard and Vera find Armstrong's body among the rocks at the edge of the sea. Vera manages to steal Lombard's revolver, and shoots him with it. The events of the past few days have affected her nerves so much that when she finds a noose hanging from the hook in her room, she hangs herself in it.
When the bodies are found, the police are at a loss to explain the ten deaths. Later a manuscript's found in a bottle at sea, in which the murderer tells the whole story. Justice Wargrave, with his strong sense of justice and his fascination with death, had found a way to punish people who, in his opinion, deserved capital punishment but had escaped the law. He himself is suffering from an incurable disease, but wants to die dramatically rather than with in slow suffering. He hadn't really been shot, but had pretended, in co-operation with Dr Armstrong, in order to confuse the orders. After everyone else was dead, he'd shot himself.
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