Oh my! How grizzly, how gruesome, how horrible!
I’m an Agatha Christie fan and I knew despite the veneer of respectability that she liked it dark. And bloody. And sinister. Even little old Miss Marple has a dark side. But in all that time I never realised Agatha Christie was a frustrated horror writer. This all became clear watching And Then There Were None (BBC1), a period murder mystery based on Christie’s novel of the same name. Even George R R Martin (aka the butcher of all your favourite characters) would have said “Come on now Agatha, don’t you think nine elaborate murders based on a racist nursery rhyme that drive a young woman to suicide in a mansion on a deserted island is a bit much? Death by dipping a guy in molten gold is one thing, but this is just nasty!”
The thing is, all these party guests lured on to the island off the coast of Devon are accused of murder, and in cleverly used flashbacks we see that yep, they’re guilty. So should we feel bad that they’re being picked off, one by one. Or is this long-overdue justice finally finding a way?
Me and Mr H both enjoy a bit of armchair sleuthing. We spent New Years Eve pretty much avoiding the celebrations and caning the ridiculously popular Making a Murderer on Netflix, wondering if we could watch it all in one go (we couldn’t – I was fighting to stay awake but I failed). If Netflix only had that and The Jinx it’d still be worth the subscription fee. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, me and the rest of the internet encourage you strongly to go watch it.
I like murder mysteries because I’m usually totally baffled and taken in by the red herrings. Mr H nods and smiles from about two-thirds of the way through because he’s worked it out. He makes me feel like a dullard, but I still enjoy them. I like stories not making sense until the final page. This one was a corker. Who were the Owens, hosting but failing to turn up at their own party? Were the servants out to poison the gathering? Was the killer hiding somewhere on the island or was s/he in their midst? Turns out Charlie Bucket’s Dad aka Noah Taylor is a scary man, Nicola Walker can play a kick-ass cop and a mousey miserable servant with equal aplomb, and that I’ll never be able to trust Charles Dance again since he played vicious and terrifying Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones. Even if he turned up on Strictly Come Dancing I’d expect people to start dying. Now there’s a thought…
The gore and the grief in And Then There Were None was shocking, but so were the sexy parties with booze and cocaine, the vigorous and enthusiastic swearing, and how the guests didn’t just end it all when they realised the only things left were tinned pilchards and brandy (this would be my way out – I hate brandy). Sadly I don’t think this is all from the Christie canon. What was less surprising was the compulsory nakedness from Mr Poldark himself, Aidan Turner, maybe not quite as dishy playing a stone-cold killer. But I always preferred him as a guilt-stricken vampire in Being Human so this was a happy diversion for me.
I did my best to guess whodunnit, but failed – taken in by that damn red herring again – so the reveal at the end was shocking and brilliant. Despite the painfully slow start to build the dark atmospheric tension (which Christie could never have afforded working inside of 270 pages) this was excellent telly. A real horror show for the long winter nights.