Monday 4 June 2018

Book review : Then There Were None - B. P. Smythe

When I was growing up in the seventies and eighties, there was a quirky, original and sometimes downright weird programme on TV called Tales of The Unexpected. While some of the stories would have you shaking your head in bewilderment from the outset, others seemed totally normal and realistic until the last five minutes when the weirdness kicked in with an, up to then unhinted at, paranormal twist. I experienced this same sense of surprise and wrong-footedness when I reached the end of B. P. Smythe's novel Then There Were None. (Although there were other strange goings-on earlier in the book, I had put them down to the totally unhinged central character's mental health issues.)

As in the aforementioned programme, the supernatural element only becomes apparent at the very end of the novel, so some of the plot devices in the early pages seem clunky and clumsy. The narrative relates a crime spree by a disgruntled, struggling actress, picking off her competitors in order to ensure she is cast in the role of her dreams. It seemed counterproductive to provide a description of the whos and hows of each murder in advance, as this instantly killed all of the suspense and much of the enjoyment, but the unexpected ending did explain why the book was written this way.

The book is very short - only 110 pages - so there is very little character development, which is a shame as, ultimately, I was disinterested in the fate of each of the victims because we know so little about them. The main protagonist, Lydia Perkins, has a colourful past, which could have been further developed to create more of an emotional tie to her. As it was, I found her highly unlikeable and had no empathy for her and the difficult times she had been through in her formative years.

It's a quick read with moments of dark humour so if you're looking for something not too taxing to read by the pool this summer, it could be just the thing.

star rating : 3/5

RRP : £5.99

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: BookPublishingWorld (15 Mar. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911412612
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911412618

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. I remember tales of the unexpected, some of them were bizarre. I might pick this up as I can do with some short reads at the moment


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