How well do you know And Then There Were None?

By: Abi Luftig
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

What started as a novel has become a play, several movies, and a TV miniseries. It has indirectly influenced dozens of similar shows and books and is widely considered to be the pinnacle of mysteries. How well do you know the masterpiece that is "And Then There Were None"?

First things first, who wrote the novel?

Agatha Christie, who also authored the alluded-to Dial M for Murder, wrote "Ten Little Indians," which has come to be known by its alternate title, "And Then There Were None." It is by far Christie’s most popular work and is considered to be her masterpiece. She often said that it was her hardest book to write.

What is the name of the island?

The island, located off the coast of Devon in the UK, is named as an homage to the poem that parallels the murders. In early editions, it was known as Indian Island. When the wording changed in later editions, it became Soldier Island. The 2015 miniseries acknowledged this shift by setting the scene as India House on Soldier Island.

Who are the hosts?

At first suspicious that their hosts have not yet arrived, the guests begin to discuss the Owens and realize that none of them know their supposed hosts. They eventually realize that U. N. Owen is shorthand for Unknown.

A framed copy of what poem hangs in each guest’s bedroom?

The title of the poem is also the original title of the book. As a sign of the times, the book and the poem were both originally titled Ten Little N-words, which was changed to the slightly less racist Ten Little Indians, before becoming the more acceptable Ten Little Soldier Boys.

How do the guests learn what they all have in common?

At first, the group seems to be entirely random, ranging from a doctor to a soldier of fortune to a former governess and the attendees cannot fathom what they all have in common. Thanks to a gramophone record played after dinner, they are informed that every guest and servant on Soldier Island has committed murder but escaped justice. The murders begin soon after.

“Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine...” Who was the first to die?

Anthony James Marston, simply referred to as Marston in an "old chap" sort of way in most cases, is the first to be killed. In the mini-series, he was played by Douglas Booth, a rising star who played Titus Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending and Mr. Bingley in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

“One choked his little self and then there were nine.” How was he killed?

Marston was poisoned with potassium cyanide, which had been slipped into his drink while the guests were listening to the gramophone recording. The poison made him cough and sputter, much like a choking victim would.

What was his crime?

Marston admits to having killed two young children by accidentally hitting them with his car. He is one of only three victims who shows no remorse for his crime. He does not lament the death of the children, merely that the "incident" caused him to lose his driver's license.

“Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late...” Who is the 2nd victim?

Mrs. Ethel Rogers, the cook/housekeeper, is the next to die. In the mini-series, she was played by Anna Maxwell Martin. Martin is no stranger to miniseries, having played Esther Summerson on Bleak House and Bessy Higgins on North & South.

“One overslept himself and then there were eight.” How was Ethel killed?

Ethel was killed in her sleep from an overdose of chloral hydrate in her brandy nightcap. Perhaps the killer wanted to go a bit easy on her, recognizing the controlling nature of her abusive husband.

What was her crime?

Ethel withheld medication from her elderly spinster employer so that she and her husband could get their inheritance sooner. Ethel was coerced into it by her domineering husband, and her actions haunted her for the rest of her life.

“Eight little Soldier Boys traveling in Devon...” Who was the 3rd victim?

The next to die was General Macarthur, played in the miniseries by Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill. This was the first time a major English adaptation of the story had used the name Macarthur for the character. The General's name was changed to either MacKenzie or Mandrake for the stage and early screen to avoid referencing WWII hero, General Douglas MacArthur. Whether this was done out of respect or to avoid confusion is unclear.

“One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.” How was he killed?

After the first few deaths, Macarthur becomes convinced that no one is leaving the island alive. He tells Vera that they have no choice but to stay and accept their fate. Soon after, he is sitting on the beach and is bludgeoned from behind by an unseen assailant.

What had been his crime?

General Macarthur found out his wife was having an affair when she wrote a letter to her husband AND a letter to her lover (his subordinate), but put the wrong letters in the envelopes. Upon discovering his wife's infidelity, the General purposely sent the other man to his death to take him out of the picture.

“Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks...” Who was the 4th victim?

Thomas Rogers was the next to die. In the miniseries, he was played by Noah Taylor. Amongst his many acting credits, fans may recognize Taylor as Locke on Game of Thrones, Darby on Peaky Blinders, and Dick Roswell in Almost Famous.

“One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.” How was he killed?

The killer sneaks up on Rogers while he is chopping firewood in the woodshed, takes his ax from him, and bludgeons him to death with it. It was rather thoughtful of Rogers to provide his own murder weapon.

What had been his crime?

Thomas Rogers, the butler, had the idea to withhold medication from the elderly spinster who employed him and his wife. Being a domineering man, he forced his wife into the scheme. Given that it had been his idea and his abuse forced Esther into it, many theorize that is why his death was so much more gruesome than his wife's relatively painless one.

“Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive...” Who was next to die?

Emily Brent was the next to die. In the miniseries, Brent was played by Miranda Richardson, best known as Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter series of films.

“A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.” How was Emily killed?

Emily's murder was a two-step process. First, the killer put chloral hydrate in her coffee to sedate her. Then, when she was disoriented, the killer used one of Dr. Armstrong's hypodermic needles to inject her with potassium cyanide in the neck. The result was a small hole, no bigger than the sting of a bee.

What was her crime?

Emily Brent fired her young maid for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Having already been disowned by her parents for the same reason, the maid then drowned herself, something the rigidly religious Brent considered an even graver sin. She refused to accept any blame in the matter, telling the others that she acted within the “dictates of my conscience” and has “nothing with which to reproach myself.”

“Five little Soldier Boys going in for law...” who is killed next?

The next body to be discovered was that of Justice Lawrence Wargrave. Wargrave was played in the miniseries by Charles Dance, who has played a number of roles over his long career but is probably best known as Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones.

“One got in Chancery and then there were four.” How was he killed?

The body of Justice Wargrave is found dressed up in his full judge's regalia -- wig, robes, and all -- and is declared by Dr. Armstrong to be dead as the result of a gunshot wound. However, as the audience/reader later discovers, all is not as it seems.

“Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea...” Who is the next victim?

The next to be killed is Dr. Edward Armstrong, played in the miniseries by Toby Stephens. Stephens is familiar with miniseries roles, having played Crawford Hill in Wired, Rochester in Jane Eyre, and Kim Philby in Cambridge Spies.

“A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.” How was he killed?

Judge Wargrave asked Armstrong to help him fake his death to help find the killer. While on a cliff discussing the plan, Wargrave pushes Armstrong to his death. As his body is not found for a long time, he is assumed by the survivors to be the killer, making him the red herring in question.

What was his crime?

Dr. Armstrong had been a doctor to the rich and powerful, but operated on a young woman while drunk. This caused her death.

“Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo...” Who is the next to die?

Former police detective William Blore is the next to die. Blore was played in the miniseries by nerd favorite Burn Gorman, who is best known for playing Owen Harper on Torchwood, but also played Adam on Forever, Stryver in The Dark Knight Rises, and Karl Tanner on Game of Thrones.

“A big bear hugged one and then there were two.” How was Blore killed?

As entertaining as the other options might have been, Blore met his end by being crushed to death when the killer dropped a bear-shaped clock from Vera's window onto his head. This helped make the remaining guests suspicious of Vera.

What was his crime?

As a Detective Sergeant, Blore had been on the payroll of a dangerous gang. They bribed him to perjure himself, and that testimony sent an innocent man to prison. That man was soon killed behind bars, leaving behind a wife and young child.

“Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun...” Who is next to die?

The next victim is Philip Lombard. In the miniseries, Lombard was played by Aiden Turner, who played Kili in the Hobbit movies and Mitchell in the UK version of Being Human.

“One got frizzled up and then there was one.” How was Lombard killed?

Vera and Lombard believed that Dr. Armstrong was the killer until his body washed up on shore at their feet. Now believing Lombard to be the killer, Vera shoots him with his own gun. Ironically, Lombard was the only guest to suspect the actual killer, but no one else believed him.

What was his crime?

As a soldier of fortune in Africa, Lombard had been working with a few East African tribesmen. He stole their food rations and abandoned them to die. He, like Marston and Ms. Brent, shows no remorse for his actions, claiming that it was him or them and he did what he had to do to survive.

“One little Soldier Boy left all alone...” Who is supposedly the last victim to die?

Supposedly, the last guest standing is Vera Claythorne, played in the miniseries by Maeve Dermody. Dermody previously played Lee in Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms and Claire Simpson on Serangoon Road.

“He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.” How did she die?

After shooting Lombard in what she believed to be self-defense, she returned to her room to find a pre-written suicide note and a noose hanging from a hook on the ceiling. She goes into a post-traumatic state, hallucinates her former lover who encourages her to kill herself, and hangs herself. What perplexes investigators is that the chair she had stood on and kicked over has been stood back up, proving that she was not the last person alive on the island.

What was her crime?

As a governess, she purposely allowed her charge to drown in the hopes that her lover, the boy’s uncle, would become the sole heir of the family fortune and marry her. Once he figured out what she’d done, he broke up with her.

Who is revealed to be the culprit?

In a postscript to the novel, Wargrave is revealed to be the killer. In early editions of the book this was not revealed, but angry readers demanded an explanation, and so the postscript was added.

Why did he do it?

Wargrave had been a "hanging judge," known for liberally handing out death sentences. He explained that he had an almost sadistic need to punish the guilty and had a lifelong wish to create a "masterpiece." Upon learning he was terminally ill, he set in motion plans for the perfect murder to become his masterpiece.

How did he finally die?

Knowing that other guests had written in their diaries about the scene of finding his body the first time, Wargrave did his best to recreate that scene so that investigators would assume he'd died when the diaries said he had. He rigs a device to shoot him, knowing the evidence will disperse and appear innocent.

How does the reader find out the truth?

Despite his desire to create a masterpiece that would never be solved, Wargrave has what he calls a "pitiful human need" for recognition. He is torn about whether or not to tell the truth, so he writes down all the details in a confession, which he then throws into the sea, leaving fate to decide whether it is found. (It is.)

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