Endless Night by Agatha Christie

April 3, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night . . .

When penniless Michael Rogers discovers the beautiful house at Gypsy’s Acre and then meets the heiress Ellie, it seems that all his dreams have come true at once. But he ignores an old woman’s warning of an ancient curse, and evil begins to stir in paradise. As Michael soon learns: Gypsy’s Acre is the place where fatal “accidents” happen.

Michael Rogers dreams of rich, beautiful wife and perfectly designed house. But after finding the woman and building the house, sudden death strikes.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS below!

Liked:

  • This was quite a departure from the typical Christie novel, and I think it worked. The story definitely had a Gothic quality about it, and there was a sense of impending doom up until the murder occurred (which was very late in the book).
  • Something seemed off about Ellie Guteman wanting to marry Mike Rogers so soon after meeting him, so I’m glad Christie later explained that it was Greta’s influence that helped push her to it. Otherwise, that point would have definitely bugged me. Too bad I didn’t delve deeper and pick up on that as the clue it was intended to be!
  • I had my suspicions of Mike, and figured he somehow had a hand in Ellie’s murder. Nevertheless, I couldn’t quite work out how he managed to make her fall off her horse while he was miles and miles away at an auction in the presence of many other witnesses. Duh…I never thought to suspect there was an accomplice!!
  • Speaking of the accomplice, that was a nice little twist on Christie’s part to have Greta be Mike’s real lover. Christie did an excellent job not only establishing Greta’s complete influence over Ellie, but also Mike’s dislike of the woman. I should have perhaps picked up on Mike’s extreme hatred being a cover for the complete opposite feeling, but I didn’t.
  • At first, I felt a bit “cheated” that Mike, the narrator, turned out to be the deranged murderer a la Roger Ackroyd. But after thinking about it for a while, I realize that the books are actually different enough that the first-person murderer can be accepted. After all, would I feel cheated if this was simply another case of a jealous/deranged/greedy husband/wife/lover murdering someone for money?

Disliked:

  • The book started off rather slowly and it took me a while to get into it. Plus, the beginning was so completely different from what I’d come to expect from Christie that I checked the cover numerous times to make sure I was indeed reading a Dame Agatha book.
  • I thought there was too little buildup to Mike turning on Greta in the end and killing her too. Yes, I understand that he was off his rocker and not thinking rationally, but still… that seemed to come out of nowhere. Explaining it away by saying that it was a bit of blood lust or that he had finally acquired a taste for killing and wanted to try it with his own hands was a rather thin justification, IMO.
  • It was quite a “lucky” coincidence that Ellie’s lawyer (was his name Lippincott?) had a newspaper clipping of a crowd shot in Belgium that happened to have Mike and Greta front and center, proving that Mike knew Greta well before he met Ellie. Of all the ways to catch a killer….

Rating:

Overall, I thought Endless Night was definitely worth the read. Agatha Christie’s later works haven’t been particularly enthralling, so it was nice to come across something that “wowed” me in the end. After a slow start, the book held my attention and had me guessing all the way through. I give this one 4 stars out of 5.

One Response to “Endless Night by Agatha Christie”

  1. I finished the book last night and have been thinking about it all day. I decided to see what others thought of it.

    I was not suspicious of Mike, although there wasn’t much to admire about him. He wanted things without working for them, couldn’t stick with a job, and was nasty to his mother, who was creepy, I thought. But, I fault Christie for not throwing out a few hints that the narrator was a psychopath. A callow, shiftless young man (not so unusual!), yes; a psychopath, who already had two murders under his belt, WHAT? A first-person narrator can inadvertently reveal that he or she has a few screws loose, which is what Christie should have done to make her ending somewhat credible.

    I enjoyed reading the book, but I don’t think Christie did an adequate job of developing the character of Mike Rogers. As far as I can recall, he never once did or thought anything sinister that would put doubts into the reader’s mind as preparation for the ending.

    A final comment. I was taken by surprise when the narrator of Who Killed Roger Ackroyd turned out to be the blackmailer/murderer. But, when I looked back, I realized that I should have suspected him right away. Who else but a doctor could have blackmailed the woman who killed her husband at the beginning of the book (I forget the names of the characters)? Only a doctor who had examined the body could have known enough about the cause of death to be a threat to the murderer. I kicked myself for noticing that, but then letting it go. Christie also threw in the bit about his being a gambler, which would account for his need of a lot of money. Christie did her “groundwork laying” well enough to make the ending a surprise, but not an unbelievable one.

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