My second Agatha Christie novel of the month and one that I was excited to read again. I don’t think her standalone novels really get enough love these days. I guess most modern readers are automatically going to pick up books starring Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. They’re her most famous literary creations, so why wouldn’t they go for them first? The problem is, some of her greatest novels are actually the standalones. Yes, her most famous ones tend to star the great Belgian but some of them are a little overrated. Not bad but definitely way too hyped.
I honestly don’t know why this book doesn’t get more love from readers. It was one of Agatha Christie’s personal favourites and is a really fantastic novel. It’s certainly different to many of her other novels and she uses a different style to her usual crime fiction. And I admit, I’ve not always been the biggest fan of her attempts to evoke supernatural elements but I love the gothic twist to Endless Night. It’s a really well-written and well-plotted mystery that has one of her strongest twists. So, I really don’t understand why people don’t appreciate it more. I can only assume that it’s because of the absence of either of her most famous literary creations. I swear, if this had even a brief appearance by the moustachioed Belgian, this would be so many people’s favourite as well.
The book is narrated by Nick, a working-class young man with big dreams. The biggest of those dreams is owning a house designed by the great architect and Nick’s friend Rudolph Santonix. The only problem, of course, is money. An issue that quickly resolves itself when Nick meets and falls in love with Ellie, a wealthy American heiress. The pair meet at Gipsy’s Acre, a house that Nick has decided is the ideal location for his dream house. After they marry, Ellie reveals that she bought the house and construction begins. Once the couple has moved in, Ellie begins being terrorised by a local gypsy woman who warns of the curse on the house. Is there really a dark presence surrounding the house or is Ellie just worrying for nothing?
I will admit, there are elements here that have been lifted from other Agatha Christie stories. I won’t say which ones in case I risk spoilers but I do think they are used better here than they were before. This book is full of suspense and intrigue. It will keep readers guessing all the way through. Not that it’s completely unsolvable because there are clues along the way. However, you’ll be so engrossed in the tense narrative that you won’t always notice them. It’s really hard to talk about this book in too much detail without giving too much away because the plot is so intricate.
Fair warning, there is a lot of build-up in this novel. You’ll start off believing that you’re reading a classic gothic romance but this is so much more than that. If you stick with this, the payoff will definitely be worth it. You also get plenty of chances to get to know the couple at the centre of this story. Nick is a complex character with a vast history. His narration seems pretty straightforward but you get the sense that there is something hidden beneath the surface. Once again, Christie proves how capable she is of writing developed and realistic characters. She has such an understanding of human behaviour and motivation. It’s amazing.
I know a lot of people still dismiss Christie as being a bit simplistic and write it off as cosy crime. Endless Night stands as proof of just how capable a writer she is. There is real darkness and intrigue here. She reaches into the depths and really uses the tradition of local legend to build the suspense. She is also dealing with some important issues here. There is plenty of discussion about class and crossing the class boundary. As well as gender politics and the lack of autonomy for young women at the time. Even though it takes time for the novel to get to the good stuff, it doesn’t lack interesting plot points. There is plenty to unpack here and it’s well worth a read. It’s always been a favourite of mine and I enjoy getting the chance to reread it.