‘And Then There Were None‘ by Agatha Christie has an interesting plot brilliantly infused with suspense that will leave one on a compulsive page-turning spree. The book is about a selection of people who are invited to an island where they mysteriously die one after another.
And Then There Were None ”Spoiler-Free” Summary
‘And Then There Were None‘ by Agatha Christie is a gripping murder mystery that follows the activities of ten individuals who are invited to a secluded island. As they gather, they soon discover that their mysterious host is absent, and a haunting recording accuses each of them of a hidden crime. Stranded on the island with no means of escape, they are gradually murdered one by one by a disturbing nursery rhyme. As the tension rises, the remaining guests must work together to uncover the identity of the killer among them before it’s too late. The story is filled with suspense, twists, and psychological intrigue as the characters grapple with their guilt and paranoia in a race against time.
Complete Plot Summary
Warning – This article contains important details and spoilers
Justice Wargrave is on a train to Soldier Island. He removes a letter from his pocket and reads it. The letter is an invitation to the island extended to him by an old friend of the name of Constance Culmington. He has not seen this friend in eight years but concludes that this island is exactly the sort of thing she would purchase. Vera Claythorne is on the same train on the same invitation to the island as the newly hired secretary to Mrs Owen. She considers how lucky it is that she is getting this new job, especially in light of her involvement in a murder scandal prior. She glances at a man across from her on the same train who she thinks looks well-travelled. This is Philip Lombard and he considers Vera to be good-looking. He is going to the same island having been hired as a mysterious job man. He knows he has been hired by a person named Isaac Morris but he has never once met this employer. And so he looks forward to getting to the island. Emily Brent is sitting in another part of the train. A conservative religious character, she moralizes over everything including trivia such as sitting postures. She is therefore sitting up straight and not slouching. She has been invited to the same island by someone who says they had shared a guesthouse with her some years back and even though she can’t quite make out the signature on the invitation she decides to honour it.
General Macarthur is aboard a different train to the same destination. He has been assured that some of his army friends are coming also. He is all too anxious to go, especially as it will afford him a chance to evaluate their attitude toward a certain rumour that had circulated about him for nearly three decades. Dr Armstrong is driving himself to the same venue. Mrs. Owen is sick and he is being employed as her doctor. He considers how lucky it is that a certain alcohol incident from years back had not ruined his career altogether. Tony Martson’s car speeds past Macarthur headed to the same place. Mr. Blore is going to the same place on a different train reading over a list bearing the names of all the other guests, thinking how easy the whole job will likely turn out. His sole company on the train, an old man, wakens and comments to him that a storm is coming and that judgment day is near. Blore contemplates that the man is much closer to death and judgment than him. The narrator observes that Blore is mistaken on that point.
Two taxis are waiting at the train station to deliver the guests to the dock. They make one another’s acquaintance with Mr Blore introducing himself as Mr Davis from South Africa. Fred Narracott ferries them to the island, observing the oddity of the lot. They neither seem to know one another nor do they look like a millionaire’s friend except for Tony Martson of course.
When the ferryman has brought them to their venue, they go up to the house and are received by Mr and Mrs Rogers, the butler and housekeeper respectively. Mr Rogers informs them that their host has been delayed but invites them to make themselves at home. The guests retire to their rooms. Vera is brought to her room by Mrs Rogers. She learns from the housekeeper that she and her husband are the sole servants in the house and that they had never seen Mr. Owen, something Vera thinks rather strange. She walks around the room and recognizes a nursery rhyme hanging on the wall. It tells the story of ten people who die variously one after another until there is not one of them left.
Dr Armstrong arrives late. When he encounters Wargrave, he remembers testifying before him in court as well as the judge’s reputation as ‘the hanging judge’. They converse and Dr. Armstrong learns that the person who had supposedly invited him to the island is not even expected there. In his respective room, Tony gets a bath and wonders what the rest of the evening holds. Blore notices the rhyme hanging from a mantelpiece and worries that the others know he is lying. Macarthur wants to leave but is stuck as the motorboat is gone. He thinks that Lombard looks suspicious, whereas the latter keeps smiling to himself pondering what a fun week it is going to be. Emily Brent reads from her Bible about sinners getting punished in hell.
Chapters Three and Four
The guests are treated to a nice dinner and begin to feel more comfortable. They remark on the ten figurines on the table and immediately connect them to the rhyme hanging in each of their rooms. They move to the drawing room after dinner and suddenly they hear a disembodied voice from a recorder. The voice charges each of them with murder, giving the details of their victims’ names and the date of the crime, and finally inviting anyone who has anything to say in self-defence to have their say. They are all in shock and Mrs. Rogers faints. Mr. Rogers fishes out the recorder that had uttered the disconcerting accusations, explaining that he had been directed by his employer to turn it on but did not know anything about what it was going to play.
When Mrs Rogers had revived and her husband and the doctor had helped her to lay down in bed, the others pour themselves drinks. Mr Rogers explains that he and his wife had never really met their host in person and that they had been engaged to work at the house by an agency that gave them all instructions via mail. The others take the cue and talk about the nature of their various invitations to the island and it comes out that their unknown host had practically impersonated various familiar persons in their lives to lure them to the island.
They go over the details of their charges one at a time, trying to make sense of it. Only Emily Brent does not comment at all on the charge against her. Wargrave proposes that they get out of the island by the first ferry that arrives in the morning, but Tony suggests on the contrary that they should stay back and try and solve the situation. Just after making this suggestion, he chokes on a drink he takes and dies.
Chapters Five and Six
It turns out the fatal drink had been poisoned, which is puzzling to the other guests as Tony had poured it himself. They put his body away in his bedroom and retire to their rooms feeling horrified. In their various rooms, they mull over the crimes they had been charged with, some rationalizing, others gloating and remorseless. Meanwhile, downstairs Rogers notices that the number of statuettes on the table had reduced by one. In her room, Vera, amid her recollecting the details of her crime, moves to the mantelpiece and notices the similarity between the first verse of the rhyme and the manner of Tony Marston’s death.
Dr Armstrong has a nightmare. A patient is on his operating table and it dawns on him that this patient must be killed. The patient’s identity switches between Emily and Marston. Rogers, unable to wake his wife, goes to fetch the doctor in his room, only for the doctor to confirm that the poor woman is dead. The others wake up hoping that the ferry will arrive and remove them from the sinister island, but no boat comes into view. The doctor announces Mrs Rogers’s death, disquieting the entire group. They speculate about the cause of her death, Emily insisting that she had died of guilty conscience from the crime she had been charged with and that her death, therefore, is a divine act. The bereaved Rogers points out to the doctor in further bewilderment and terror that there are now eight figurines left of the original ten.
Chapters Seven and Eight
Emily and Vera walk and talk over the recent occurrences on the island. Emily restates her view that the housekeeper died of a guilty conscience and recounts the story of the murder she had been charged with, insisting that she was not sorry for it. She had driven a maid of hers who got pregnant out of wedlock, and the poor girl, in despair, had drowned herself. Vera is horrified by the story. Lombard and Armstrong are having a similar chat about the occurrences on the island and they agree that whatever the details of the individual deaths that have occurred, it is a remarkable coincidence that two deaths had happened within 12 hours of their arrival on the island. The doctor shares the fact of the number of figurines dropping to eight with Lombard and on reciting the first two verses of the rhyme, Lombard realizes that they correspond to the manner of the two deaths that have just occurred. They conclude that this must be Mr Owen’s doing and decide to find him.
Lombard, Armstrong, and Blore embark on a thorough search of the island. In the course of doing that, they bump into Macarthur who seems despondent and on the verge of a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, it turns out that Lombard has a revolver. A storm seems to be fermenting and the men discuss how they could send out a signal to the mainland. They come to a cliff and realize they need a rope to be able to get through to its caves. Blore goes back into the house to fetch the rope. They finish the search outside finding nothing. They take it inside with the same result, and so they conclude that there is no one on the island except the eight of them.
Chapters Nine and Ten
Blore, Armstrong, and Lombard argue, with Blore expressing the view that Mrs Rogers must have died from an overdose either accidentally or deliberately administered by the doctor. Lombard does not quite agree with this theory and also demands that Lombard explains why he is armed. Lombard explains that the work he had been hired to do suggested that some manner of danger may be involved. They assemble for lunch and discover Macarthur missing. The doctor rushes out to fetch him and runs right back in with news of his death. They notice that only seven figurines are left on the dining table. They all convene in the drawing room save for Rogers. Wargrave steers the meeting, suggesting that he concludes that the killer is one of them. They go over the details of their activities since they arrived on the island to see if the three deaths so far could plausibly be imputed to any of them. As it is none of them has an unassailable alibi. Wargrave dismisses the meeting warning everyone to be on the lookout henceforth.
The guests begin to contemplate who the killer might be amongst themselves. Vera suspects the doctor, and Lombard suspects Wargrave. Blore will not give voice to the person he suspects. Armstrong worries that they may all get killed in their sleep. Wargrave on the other hand suggests that he thinks he knows exactly who the murderer is except that he cannot tender any evidence that will be admissible in court to back that up. They gather in the drawing room later in the evening feeling a bit relaxed only for Rogers to suddenly rush in and announce a missing bathroom curtain. They retire for the day feeling nervous again. Rogers locks the dining room to ensure no one removes any more of the figurines.
Chapters Eleven and Twelve
They wake up the following morning and find that Rogers is nowhere to be seen. It is Vera who first discovers him in the dining room. They are horrified by the sight of him as he is lying lifeless with a hatchet wound on the back of his neck. And yet one more of the figurines has gone missing. Vera goes hysterical about how everything seems to be playing exactly in line with the verses of the nursery rhyme hanging in their respective rooms. Emily and Vera prepare breakfast for the group. Blore now thinks that Emily is the killer and tells Lombard so. They have breakfast deeply troubled in their thoughts.
The rest go out after breakfast to clean up in the kitchen but Emily, feeling too lightheaded, remained at the dining table where suddenly she sees a bee buzzing at the window. She feels someone behind her. In the drawing-room, Blore repeats to the others that he thinks Emily is the killer they are looking for. They tend to agree, only to find her dead when they go back to the dining to fetch her. They see the buzzing bee and recall the verse of the rhyme about a bee stinging one. Emily seems to have been injected with a fatal syringe. The doctor admits that he does have a syringe in his bag and when they go to search his room the syringe disappeared. They agree to lock away anything that can come in handy as a weapon, notably Lombard’s gun, and the doctor’s medicine case. But Lombard’s gun has disappeared too by the time they get to his room to fetch it. They decide therefore that everyone strips down and be searched. The search proves futile. They only find the doctor’s syringe lying thrown out the dining room window along with the sixth figurine.
Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen
They gather in the drawing room again. Dr Armstrong is super nervous and smoking with shaky hands. A sort of tacit agreement had been reached that only one of them at a time can go to any place while the rest will remain together. Vera goes to get a shower and is frightened by a scrap of seaweed hanging from her room ceiling. Her scream brings the others rushing in concernedly. As they rally around her to calm her, they notice that Wargrave is not in their midst. They rush back downstairs and find him dressed in the same red curtain that had gone missing earlier and shot in the head. Again they find that this is in tune with the poem that seems to be the subtle impetus of all their tragedies on the island.
There are just four of them left now and somehow everyone thinks they know precisely who the killer is at this point, though no one makes any overt accusation. They are still all haunted by the memories of the murders they had been accused of. Lombard notices that his gun had reappeared. Blore hears a noise outside and a figure walks downstairs. He checks on the others quickly and finds that Armstrong is not in his room. He speedily calls Lombard and Vera’s attention. The two men go outside to see what’s happening and find Armstrong nowhere in sight. By the time they get back in, there is a broken windowpane in the house and only three statues left in the dining.
Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen
There are just Vera, Lombard and Blore left now and they decide that they must try and signal the mainland again for probable help. Blore finds it unsettling that Lombard had recovered his gun and accuses him of being the killer. Lombard counters him by asking why he hasn’t simply shot Blore if it was so. Vera rebukes them for indulging this petty argument and points out to them that Armstrong’s disappearance is indeed in character with the text of the poem. And that the next death according to the rhyme has something to do with a zoo. Blore thinks the killer will have a hard time pulling that one off seeing that they are ensconced on an island. But when he goes into the house to get something to eat after they had been trying to send a signal to the mainland, something is cast through Vera’s window and he is crushed by it. The object turns out to be a bear-shaped marble clock that had been hanging in Vera’s room. Vera and Lombard go outside to seek help and find Armstrong’s body on the beach.
They put the body away. Vera had gotten a hold of Lombard’s gun somehow and now suddenly she points it at him. He leaps at her and she fires. He drops dead a shot having gone through his heart. She feels fatigued and relieved. She goes back into the house, and seeing the three remaining statues on the table, she breaks two and picks up the last. She walks up to her room thinking of Hugo and feeling in some hallucinatory way that he is waiting for her upstairs. When she opens the door of her bedroom, she sees a noose hanging from the hook that had held the seaweed prior. She feels an irresistible force pull her towards the noose and she puts her head in and kicks off the chair.
The police get to the island and are only able to make sense of the whole episode solely based on a written record of the incidents kept by Wargrave himself. It turns out he is the mysterious killer after all and had lured all the other guests to the island just to satisfy his fanatic sense of justice as well as indulge his craving to kill as an art. He had masterminded everything including faking his death and patterning the several killings according to the series of inevitable deaths that occur in the nursery rhyme ‘Ten Little Indians’, which he had so loved as a child.
Why did Dr Armstrong help Justice Wargrave fake his death?
Dr Armstrong helped Justice Wargrave fake his death because he is rather gullible and was manipulated by Wargrave into believing that the ruse of faking Wargrave’s death would help the group identify the killer responsible for all the other deaths.
Who was the killer in ‘And Then There Were None?’
The killer in ‘And Then There Were None‘ was Justice Wargrave. After everyone on the island had died, a message in a bottle was retrieved where Wargrave confessed to the killings and to faking his death and his subsequent suicide.
Who killed Vera Claythorne?
Vera Claythorne took her own life. She was the last one alive on the island but she hung herself when she walked to her room in a post-traumatic state and found a noose and chair waiting for her.
Why did Vera kill Cyril?
Vera was a governess to a little boy named Cyril. Vera met Cyril’s uncle Hugo and fell in love with him although he was poor. When Vera learned that Cyril was the only reason Hugo did not inherit his late brother’s wealth, she decided to eliminate Cyril for Hugo’s sake.
Vera killed Cyril by asking him to go swim in the ocean and intentionally delaying going to his rescue when she saw that he was drowning. But Hugo rejected her love when he found out that she had killed Cyril.