The title picture is credited to NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Endless Night was first published in 1967 and is one of Agatha Christie’s favourite pieces of her own work. It does not include any of her established detectives and although it is a mystery novel, it is a departure from Agatha Christie’s usual style.
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Endless night is written entirely from the perspective of Michael Rogers. He is 22 years old, he cannot settle in one place – picking up odd jobs all over Europe – and he is enjoying life, free and easy. The one thing that he doesn’t have is money. He is completely averse to hard work. As he puts it, he doesn’t want to slave away until he is middle-aged to only then enjoy the fruits of his labour – he wants it all now.
Fortuitously enough, Michael is out on the English countryside checking out an old, country estate house which is up for auction – Gypsy’s Acre – and he meets an heiress to an American oil fortune. It is love at first sight and although he doesn’t say it straight out, all of Michael’s money problems are over and through his new lover, he can have anything that his heart desires.
They soon elope and Ellie the heiress buys Gypsy’s Acre, where they build their dream house and begin their happy lives together. Of course, Ellie’s family aren’t happy about her marrying out of her station, but after Michael meets the family all is well. That is until the gypsy lady who lives in the village starts to send them ominous warnings to move from the house and land otherwise bad things will happen.
The murder (And I won’t ruin it by saying who dies) didn’t actually occur until the book was three quarters of the way through and I began to wonder whether I had stumbled across one of Mary Westmacott’s romance novels instead!
As I was reading Endless Night, I was struck by the similarity to ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ It isn’t a coming of age story, however given the attitude of the narrator, the youthful voice and the way his thoughts are so disjointed, however intrinsically entwined with the story, the voice of Michael Rogers echos somewhat that of Holden Caulfield.
As per Holden Caulfield, for me, Michael Rogers is not a likable character. I felt as though he was an unreliable narrator and as I continued to read, I wasn’t sure whether to fully trust his perceptions. Agatha Christie used Michael’s unreliability and attitude as a device for adding to the mystery and suspense.
The skill of Agatha Christie to write from the perspective of 22 year old, lay-about, cad at her age of approximately 77 is a tribute to her talent as a writer. If you are after a love story, that also includes murder, greed and gypsy’s curses, then this is the book for you. If on the other hand, you are one of those people who strongly disliked ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ I would give this one a miss.
To read a fantastic review of my debut novel Underneath the Killing Tree click here.
To read the first chapter of my debut novel Underneath the Killing Tree click here.