And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie 1939
Christie, known widely as the Queen of Mystery, has written 80 crime novels in addition to memoirs, novels, short story collections, and plays, but this book may be the quintessential English closed-door murder mystery. Instead of a ‘closed door room’, she takes the reader to Soldier Island, a small rocky outpost, one mile off the Devon coast, where ten individuals have been gathered by invitations from U.N. Owen (aka UNKNOWN). A retired army General, a governess, a spinster, a retired policeman, a world-wide adventurer, a retired judge, a doctor, a playboy, and a husband and wife servant team find themselves isolated on the island where the poem Ten Little Soldier Boys is on the wall in each room. It concludes with the line “And then there were None”, fittingly appropriate to the action on Soldier Island over the few days after they arrive. I won’t spoil the story because it’s a fine one as the guests die, day by day, and the mystery deepens as to who, how, and why. A great throwback to the glory days of the British mystery story!