Philip Lombard has the most mysterious past of anyone on the island. He is a world traveler and a former military man who seems to have served as a soldier of fortune in Africa. In the epilogue, one of the policemen describes him as having “been mixed up in some very curious shows abroad . . . [the] sort of fellow who might do several murders in some quiet out-of-the-way spot.” He comes to Indian Island after Isaac Morris hires him, supposedly because Mr. Owen needs a “good man in a tight spot.” Clearly a dangerous man, Lombard carries a gun and is frequently described as moving “like a panther.” He is bold enough to initiate several searches of the island, perceptive enough to suspect Judge Wargrave of being the killer, and brave enough to voice his suspicions. Lombard is also honest: he owns up to his past misdeeds. When the recorded voice accuses him of leaving twenty-one men from an East African tribe to die in the bush, Lombard cheerfully admits to it, saying there was only enough food for himself and a friend, and so they took off with it. The other characters cannot bring themselves to admit their own guilt, but Lombard has no such qualms.
Lombard does display a weakness, however, that ultimately brings about his downfall: his chivalrous and old-fashioned attitude toward women. In the first group conversation about the murders, he suggests excluding the women from the list of potential suspects, since he considers them incapable of homicidal behavior. Lombard’s tendency to underestimate women enables Vera to steal his gun and shoot him when he jumps at her. In a strange way, his death unites Vera and Lombard—they are the only characters to die at the hand of someone other than Wargrave.