Endless Night – Agatha Christie

Product Details

“Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to Endless Night…”

This was my choice for March’s #1967PastOffences, run by Rich (see how behind I am?!) And I’ve yet to begin April’s #1936PastOffences (James M Cain’s Double Indemnity, if you’re interested – I’m only hoping it’s not too long; as it’s in a collection of his work, I can’t see at a glance!) Plus this is the second month in a row I’ve picked the same book as Jose Ignacio at the wonderful The Game’s Afoot website, which I’m sure you all know, but if you don’t, drop by for some great (bilingual) reviews and some fabulous recommendations, especially if you’re a fan of translated fiction, particularly of the Scandinavian sort (warning: be prepared to increase your TBR pile hugely!)

As with Double Indemnity, I chose this book for one reason and one reason only – it was amongst the piles and boxes of books in the flat (I was actually surprised how many older books I have. Hell, I was surprised at how many I have, period..!) Endless Night is a book I bought for a bus trip, and ended up not reading, but, as is so often the case with me, I still have it. It’s not a Poirot or a Marple; instead, it’s a strange little novel about a young couple who, coincidentally, meet in an area of ground on the edge of an English village. This piece of land, which is up for sale, is supposedly cursed, due to gypsies being turned off this area which was their rightful land, but our young lovebirds, Michael and Ellie (Fenella) are cynical of such superstition. Michael, who tells the story in the first person, had been working as a chauffeur, driving rich people on their European holidays, but it’s immediately apparent he’s easily bored, changing jobs frequently, and not particularly well-educated, but quite streetwise. However, he’s fallen on his feet by meeting Ellie – by coincidence, she’s the heiress to a massive American fortune – a fact she initially conceals from Michael. With the help of her companion – and close friend – Greta, she is able to deceive her family – who, to be fair, mostly consist of hangers-on: an ex-wife of her late father, and uncles who aren’t really uncles – as to her whereabouts, in order to spend time with Michael until, eventually, they are married, unbeknownst to the “family.” Predictably, they aren’t happy, presumably as this means that the cash cow, Ellie, is now betrothed, and the money might not flow so freely to them now she has a husband…It’s clear that this is the first time Ellie has stood up to them and avoided the cloistered background they’ve kept her in, for their own benefit, and this has made the hangers-on she calls her family very unhappy and angry.

Somewhere on his travels on the Continent, Michael met and befriended genius architect, Rudolf Santonix, who had always promised him that, should Michael’s boat ever come in, he would build him a perfect house. Santonix is ill (probably cancer, going by the clues in the book) and says he thinks he only has two or three houses left in him, so it looks like Michael and Ellie have met just in the nick of time. Santonix is drafted in to create the house of their dreams, but Michael and Ellie – particularly Ellie – are continually accosted by a gypsy woman, Mrs Lee, who lives in the village and never tires of threatening Ellie, appearing when she’s out riding and suchlike, and telling them both of the bad luck which will afflict those who live on what is rightly gypsy land.

Unlike Ellie, Michael has a mother (but no father), who doesn’t seem very fond of him, as if she knows him better than other people – which, to be fair, she probably does – but not in the loving, proud way you would expect a mother to behave. And due, perhaps, to his humble background, he is reluctant to introduce her to Ellie. She is, on the rare occasions we come across her, warning Michael she knows his character and that he’s no good.

This strange little book, which apparently provoked mixed responses from Christie fans, is a fast, easy read. Michael’s narrative of the story comes across as sounding slightly dated and in what was presumably then meant to be working-class language, but obviously that quaint air is to be expected in a book written in 1967.

Of course, this being an Agatha Christie, there is a twist in the tale, which I can tell you I didn’t see coming at all – essentially, I thought we’d had our twist! After that, though, there is another twist which I found a touch too unbelievable. Apart from that very minor niggle at the end, I really enjoyed my reacquaintance with Agatha Christie. I think I’ve spent too long away from the Queen Of Crime – I must’ve been a teenager the last time I read one, and I think I assumed I’d grown out of them (I remember finding ancient copies of The Clocks, Hallowe’en Party, and A Murder Is Announced in my parents when I was 12 or 13, presumably abandoned by bed and breakfasters!) I hugely enjoyed the book as a whole, and it made a pleasant change from reading current crime fiction. After almost 30 years away from Agatha Christie, I think it’s time to renew my acquaintance with her – I’ll be digging out the few I have in the house, and keeping my eyes peeled in second-hand shops too. To be honest, I really don’t think crime fiction lovers ever really grow out of Agatha Christie!

21 thoughts on “Endless Night – Agatha Christie

    • It’s the truth – you play havoc with my TBR pile! I know I can always find a good recommendation from you. What did you think of the result of the Petrona Award – the right winner?

      Like

      • Ah I think I recall seeing your preference on your blog, am I right? If I’m thinking of the right book, then I have both so I’ll have to read them and compare them, to see who I agree with. They should really get you on the judging panel one year – you’re exceptionally well qualified! I’m trying to get through the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year longlist of 18, as I have all bar three, which I’d manage except I’ve a couple of blog tours (one being Snow Blind!) but I’m going to give it a bash anyway.

        Like

  1. Thanks for reviewing this one, Linda. I am barely getting started myself. She had more hits than misses it looks like. The ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed like 4:50 to Paddington, Sleeping Murder, her masterpiece, And Then There None (dark, macabre type of story). My dear mother has read them all. Probably not all-all because I always find one in a secondary shop she hasn’t read and is delighted to have.

    Like

  2. I’ve got And Then There Were None – that’s the new, PC title isn’t it? There don’t seem to be too many in the second hand shops here, which is a bit rubbish, it’s stuff like last year’s beach reads – nothing particularly old. I did grab a Ruth Rendell, The Crocodile Bird, for 50p yesterday, as despite having read all her standalones and Vines, and most Wexfords, I can remember very little about them, and they’re definitely worth a re-read. I’ll have to wander up the other end of the town, see if I can find some older second hand books! And a trip to the library would definitely get me some Agatha Christies – and there’s always the chance they’re selling old stock!

    Like

    • Yes, you must read And Then There Was None. It’s digitized but not sure for how much or if you even read ebooks for that matter.

      Like

      • Sorry Keishon I didn’t write that very clearly at all – by PC title I meant politically correct – as isn’t that the one that was originally called Ten Little N-word that isn’t acceptable nowadays? Was that the one? I’ve got The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd too, but once you are aware of the twist in that one it’s unforgettable and impossible NOT to think about when reading it – but so admirable, to be so daring! I think I read that it caused something of a furore at the time, with arguments over whether it qualified as a “locked room” mystery. Btw – excitement! – Adrian McKinty tweeted me and said his favourite Sean Duffy is no 3 as it’s a locked room mystery so I’m looking forward to that one!

        Like

      • Sorry! Yes, that’s the one with the better title. Based off a nursery rhyme. BTW, I read that tweet about McKinty’s favorite Duffy book. I think I’ll start there, too 😉

        Like

  3. It’s been years since I read Endless Night and I’m trying so hard to remember the storyline and the twist. I might have even read it in play form. I did that with several of AC’s books. Well, I can see that I need to seek it out just to satisfy my curiosity. Glad you’re thinking of reading more Christie books. No, I don’t think you ever grow out of them and if it’s a long time between reads, sometimes, you forget who did it. LOL

    Like

    • I really didn’t know a lot of them were in play form, Kay! I liked the fact there was no Poirot or Marple, as I associate them so closely with the TV series – even though I don’t watch them, when reading a Poirot you can’t help but “see” David Suchet. I’m not hugely fond of TV crime – it’s not in the same league as books!

      Like

  4. This is really a very interesting book, isn’t it, Crimeworm? I like the physical context for the book as much as anything else, and yes, the twist is great. One thing I always admire about her is that she tried different things and wasn’t afraid to play with ‘the rules’ of the genre. And sometimes I think her non-series characters are as interesting as her series characters – perhaps even more.

    Like

  5. You’re right Margot – as I said to Kay, we associate the series characters so closely with their TV versions it can spoil one’s own mental picture of them (although there are a few Miss Marples to choose from!) As a result, I’ll tend to avoid a Poirot or a Marple book, and choose something else if given the choice. I don’t mind Tommy and Tuppence as they aren’t so ingrained in the mind, although I do remember one TV series featuring them several years ago. I think by playing with the rules of the genre she often created new ones, and gave other authors the confidence to try different things too. I MUST keep my eyes peeled for more, as it’s been so long since I read some, and even then not many. I went through a big Dick Francis stage in my teens, reading them constantly, and that’s the point at which I sort of dropped AC. In retrospect, not the best decision…!

    Like

    • I read a couple when I was younger and remember enjoying them but not really any detail – we’re talking 25 years ago! There’s a great site, PastOffences, run by a guy Rich who likes his retro/noir stuff, and every month they pick a year from which you read and review a book – great way to get through all those old titles you’ve had for ages and SHOULD’VE read! I’m way behind; that was technically March’s title; I’ve got Double Indemnity for April – 1936. Couldn’t find anything in the house for May (1949, I think) so thought I should use it to catch up! I’m fast enough with the reading but slow with the reviewing but I’ve got a new laptop which will hopefully speed me up. If I see a year with a Ngaio Marsh, I’ll have to go for that! I’d highly recommend the site if you haven’t come across it before – some really interesting crime fans on there! But yes I’m definitely enjoying something a bit more classic! And I must read Margery Allingham – don’t remember reading her at all! Are you onto some vintage stuff? I must read more Patricia Highsmith too – I know you’re a fan!

      Like

  6. I don’t think I’ve read this one before so I’ll keep my eyes peeled. As you know I’ve recently become reacquainted with AC and enormously enjoyed the experience, in some ways more so than the first time around. Great review which has me eager to find a copy – got the dates for the big book sale here in Jersey recently so this is going on the list 😉

    Like

    • This made me take out the ones I “reclaimed” at Christmas (maybe now Mr C has a decent phone, bought at the weekend, I’ll even be able to take photos of them!) and a couple of others, as I really hadn’t read them since teenage years – there are so many books out there I rarely do re-reads, but they’re definitely worth it! I want to buy “older” versions of them, to complete the whole memory experience, and I suspect that Jersey may well have it’s fair share of pensioners, so you’ve a good chance of bagging some “retro” covers – they’re so much nicer than the modern ones, any day! Also looking forward to the re-issue of Margaret Millar’s work – plus NetGalley have some lovely British Crime Classics – is it just me, or are they nicer to read (and to have) in hard copy?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I put some on my post the other weekend and looking out for more of the picador set as they have the covers I like best – I’m staying right away from NG at the moment to try and get my pile of review books under control… watch me fail!!

        Like

      • I like the Fontana ones best, as they remind me of seeing them as a child – the ones I got from my parents were Fontana, then I got another one in the charity shop. You never seem to get great old books in the charity shops any more – it’s just whatever everyone was reading last year (Richard and Judy, etc!) Although I may take a wander up the top of the town today, as there’s three up there. They’re way more expensive than my favourite 50p shop – when I worked in Oxfam the odd afternoon four years ago they were £2+, so I don’t know how much they’ll want now! It does have a big book section though, so I might find some ACs. I’ve been buying 50p Ruth Rendells too, in the last couple of weeks. I KNOW I’ve read them, but can remember nothing about them…so it’ll be like new books entirely – although I hope I don’t get halfway through then remember everything! I’ll look out for the odd PD James too, although her world wasn’t one with which I was familiar – I couldn’t relate to her characters much. Good mysteries, though.

        Like

      • The Agatha Christies and Ruth Rendell are the ones I always look out for – as well as Reginald Hill which I love and borrowed from the library and I’m sure I missed a few pre-internet time when I could check what was coming out.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s