A haunting, creepy mystery from the pen of the Queen of Crime.

Endless Night (1967) is a standalone by Christie, and a book very different from her others, more in the realm of her stories that have a dreamy, creepy quality and yet do have their feet in the human realm. This story is told in first person by one of the main characters (actually one might call him the central character, since all we see and know is from his perspective), Michael Rogers. Michael is a good-looking young man, but a restless one, who can’t stick to a job or settle down. He does various things from working in a garage to working as a driver (when we meet him), and at his whim chucks a job and moves on to the next. Michael comes upon and falls for a beautiful property in a small village called Kingston Bishop, with an old falling-to-bits house called The Towers, though according to local legend, it is called Gypsy’s Acre. Of course, he doesn’t have the money to buy it.  But luck is on his side it seems, for here he also meets and falls in love with a young heiress, Ellie who reciprocates his feelings. The two are married (of course, her family doesn’t approve), and hire an architect Rudolf Santonix, whom Michael has met on one of his driving jobs, to build the house of their dreams.

But in the village, he initially, and later Ellie meet an old gypsy woman Mrs Lee who reads their palms and warns them off the place. Once they are married and arrive to settle in their new home, Mrs Lee continues to appear when Ellie goes out warning her away again and again. This naturally makes Ellie uneasy.

Meanwhile, Michael also doesn’t much like Greta, Ellie companion/au pair who seems to have an influence over Ellie, and soon moves herself into their home, despite all the objections he has, adding to the tension in the atmosphere. Accidents have taken place in the vicinity of Gypsy’s Acre in the past, but put down to the curve in the road. But is really something in the curse?

I absolutely loved the atmosphere that Christie has created in this book. For over two-thirds of the book, nothing (I mean no deaths or incidents) happens—we are basically being told Michael and Ellie’s story, how they meet, how they marry, how they begin to get used to life with each other having come from such completely opposite backgrounds, and of course Ellie’s family’s reactions to Michael (there is a certain dreaminess in the narrative which I could perhaps compare with Christie’s Harley Quinn stories). We are only told that there is some lore surrounding the place (no details of any incidents that occurred there), and we have the old gypsy woman, Mrs’s Lee’s ominous warnings, to Michael perhaps once and then to Ellie repeatedly—again learnt of by us through Michael—no ‘encounters’ with her except the initial ones. But despite this, Christie does a wonderful job in creating an atmosphere that not only gives one a feeling of impending doom, but is also very very very creepy as well. So much so that even after I’d finished (luckily, I read it during the day), I felt goosebumps and chills for a long while (and can feel it even when writing this review).

Also as far as the mystery is concerned, I thought Christie did a wonderful job as well, pulling on us a surprise that I didn’t see coming at all—until really just before the reveal. Here since Michael is the narrator, all we know of the other characters—people in the village and Ellie’s family is through him. We don’t really ‘know’ them but have bits of information. So one doesn’t have much to work with in terms of figuring out whodunit, but one does keep trying to work it out. The answer though, I only saw right at the last moment, and wouldn’t have worked it out at all.

I wouldn’t like to use the word ‘enjoy’ for this book, but I found it to be one where the atmosphere was excellently done as was the mystery, and I especially liked that little otherworldly touch she kept even when the mystery itself was very much of this world!

4 stars  

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Endless Night by Agatha Christie

  1. As I’ve just re-read this too, I can totally relate to your description of the eerie atmosphere. In fact, though I first read this book several years ago and had completely forgotten the story, except for the gipsy element, I had not forgotten the eerie feeling it evokes. Definitely worth a read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, some books I enjoy, and others I am glad I read, and can appreciate the story and the writing, but are not “enjoyable” however I’m so glad I read them.

    Liked by 1 person

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