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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
"A MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT SENT TO SCOTLAND YARD..."
A fishing boat finds a confession letter from Justice Wargrave and forwards it to Scotland Yard. Wargrave admits he had a strong urge to kill from his childhood and also, ironically, a powerful desire for justice. This nudged him to a career as a judge, but he began to want not only to judge cases but to commit murders himself. Yet to be just, he would not kill any innocents. He began to collect cases of neglected justice, in which someone had committed a murder or contributed to death but had faced no criminal prosecution. He heard of his nine final victims from their former friends and acquaintances and gathered intimate information about them in order to lure them to Indian Island. Wargrave’s tenth victim, after excluding himself, was the man he hired to arrange the island logistics, Morris; Wargrave gave Morris a poison capsule, telling him it would cure his indigestion.
Wargrave explains that his impetus for executing his Indian Island scheme was the news that he suffered from a terminal illness. Knowing he did not have long to live, he had no qualms about ending his own life as part of the plot. He planned to kill last those most deserving to suffer while ending the suspense earlier for the less guilty. After describing how he killed each victim, Wargrave reveals that he had hid Lombard’s revolver in a tin of food at the bottom of a pantry drawer and had returned it knowing the remaining characters would use it against each other at the end. He also describes how he gained Dr. Armstrong’s confidence, claiming they would sniff out the real killer together by having Wargrave pretend to be killed. Wargrave double-crossed the doctor when they rendezvoused the next night, and pushed him into the ocean.
Finally, Wargrave details the trap he prepared for Vera Claythorne as soon as he saw her shoot Lombard. He considered the waiting noose a "psychological experiment," to see if Vera’s guilt from drowning the child, impact of having just killed Lombard, and mysterious feel of the setting would be enough to convince her to take her own life. After the plan succeeded, Wargrave shot himself with the revolver using a complicated sequence of events, which would make it impossible for anyone to guess he killed himself. Therefore, his death would match the account of his original "murder" kept by the other characters.
This final section of the book serves as the solution to the mystery for the reader. Justice Wargrave meticulously details his purpose for the murders as well as his plan for executing them. Here we discover the central hook to the mystery: Wargrave enticed Dr. Armstrong into a pact, supposedly to find the real killer, and the two only pretended Wargrave was dead when he was first shot. Wargrave then double-crossed the doctor and remained alive and hidden to finish off the remaining characters before cleverly ending his own life in a way that made it impossible for detectives to name him the murderer. This twist in the plot is what makes the book one of Agatha Christie’s most acclaimed mysteries.