Did Agatha Christie Invent the slasher genre? Book club discussion questions for “And then there were none”.

Please be aware that our book club discussion questions contain spoilers.

Synopsis

And Then There Were none is a detective story by Agatha Christie, but it acts as a precursor to a lot of the cliches found in later horror movies. This set of book club discussion questions aims to highlight and reflect on the deep roots of the horror genre.

Discussion questions

  • The murderer is driven by an insatiable need to kill, but tempers that with a code, so that only those who “deserve” to die are murdered. What other series use a similar contrivance? Do you feel that this is a realistic depiction, or a limitation placed on the characters as a dramatic necessity?
  • The murderer is dying of cancer, and so is beyond fearing the death penalty. Can you think of other killers similarly freed from conventional morality by their imminent demise? Do you feel that people truly would behave this way if released from the potential to face human justice? Would you?
  • After the killings are complete, the police receive a delayed message from the murderer, explaining what they have discovered. Why does the killer do this? Can you pick similar situations out of other stories?
  • The murders are based on lines from a children’s rhyme. Which other killers used similar modus operandi? Christie uses nursery rhymes repeatedly in her works. Why do you think she does this? Is it effective? Is the effectiveness decreased when the rhymes have now become unfamiliar? If you were an author trying to adapt a song by the Wiggles into a guide for murder, which song would it be?
  • Is the resort to which the victims are taken in any sense analogous to a cabin in the woods? Is it more or less terrible because it is so modern, bright and clean?
  • The murderer hides himself as a corpse. This motif has appeared repeatedly in horror stories. Can you name examples? Does it harm the suspension of disbelief? Would modern people harder to fool, given our visual culture of theatrical crime?

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