ENDLESS NIGHT (Agatha Christie)

67ddfc001a396f31fddff0ed3d99da42This is a real departure from Agatha Christie’s normal style. There’s no frothy drawing-room games here, but a steady building malevolence that culminates with, of course, a murder. Written in the first person: young, poor, drifter Michael Rogers tells his story of discovering the mystical and enchanting location of Gypsy’s Acre.

The current building that occupies the land is for sale and penniless Michael dreams of building his perfect house there, designed of course by the mysterious architect Santonix, who Michael has met during his duties as chauffeur to the rich. All Michael needs is the money to build the house, and then to marry the right girl. He needs the ideal wife to compliment his dream home.

Solving both of these requirements is rich heiress Fenella (Ellie) Guteman who Michael bumps into by chance whilst viewing Gypsy’s Acre. The two young people fall for each other and after a whirlwind romance they are married in secret, much to the displeasure of Ellie’s extended family who seem quite concerned that Michael might be a gold digging rogue, only after Ellie’s money.

The couple decide that they will build their dream house on Gypsy’s Acre and they engage Santonix to perform the work. The only grey cloud on the horizon is the creepy and possibly sinister figure of Mrs Lee, a villager and gypsy who claims that the land the Rogers are building on belongs to the gypsys and woe betide anyone who plans to live there.

I found it was one of those Christie novels where you can guess who the victim is going to be and who the murderer is almost immediately, but that’s not to say the book is any less enjoyable for that. The writing style is almost poetic in approach and she really creates an atmosphere of brooding evil around the location of Gypsy’s Acre.

There is time for some Christie standards in amongst all of this, the retired military chap and the beautiful governess, but there are a couple of other characters which are well worth reading about, Michael’s mother is a prime example of this.

Ultimately it is a rather tragic book and there isn’t really any light relief amongst the chapters, but fans of Christie will find it well worth the read and other mystery or crime readers will also enjoy it. A few very well-placed surprises catch you off your guard to make this one of the most original books she’s written.

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