|Publisher:||Collins The Crime Club|
Every night and every Morn,
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night,
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
- William Blake
As far as cozy mysteries go Agatha Christie is the ultimate ‘go to’ if you just want to settle in for a good old-fashioned murder. With Christie’s knack for turning the average Joe into a detective it is surprising that her books are not considered overly formulaic and predictable. Personally I have never been able to guess the murderer, and I have always been in awe of Christie’s ability to immerse social commentary and a definite attempt at feminism into her novels.
In Endless Night Christie takes a different approach in terms of using a Gothic setting and atmosphere for her protagonists. The plot is tightly woven into a singular space without a Poirot or Miss Marple type character in sight. Instead we are faced with a deadly romance, a family filled with tension and a gypsy’s curse. In fact the novel is so dark at times that it is difficult to tell whether that ‘darkness’ comes from the ominous Gipsy’s Acre, where it all takes place, or whether it can be found in the mortal souls that star in this gruesome tale.
In the beginning there was a young working class Englishman named Michael ‘Mike’ Rogers who had dreams of living in the right house and being married to the right girl. He attends an auction for the fun of it one day and discovers the sale of a piece of land in the English woods called Gipsy’s Acre. Upon the land is a house not so fondly named The Towers. Upon visiting the property and falling for its allure, even though Mike doesn’t have a cent to his name, he also meets Fenella ‘Ellie’ Goodman/Guteman who he will fall in love with immediately. It turns out that Ellie is an American with a massive inheritance and it is through her that Mike’s dream home will become a reality. Very soon they are married and through the help of Mike’s architect friend, Rudolf Santonix, they build his dream home on the place where The Towers once stood. As blissful as this all sounds it will soon be tainted by the presence of a neighboring gypsy woman who will threaten their happy home life with tales of a curse upon the land.
Ellie, whose inheritance was a result of her parent’s untimely demise, is fabulously wealthy, and because of this she is also surrounded by lawyers, accountants, and distant relatives all determined to control her fortune. As Mike’s presence in her life becomes known to her rather vast entourage his motives are questioned by the very same people whom Mike finds suspicious in their constant ‘concern’ for Ellie’s life decisions. Then there is Greta, the Swedish beauty who is a close friend of Ellie’s whom Mike just can’t seem to trust and who is responsible for controlling all aspects of Ellie’s life. When a fatal accident occurs on the Gipsy’s Acre property everyone becomes a suspect despite the overall menace that perhaps it was simply the alleged curse that was responsible.
This unique mystery has been listed as one of Agatha Christie’s personal favorites. Not only is it a fascinating blend of modern and Gothic, it is also a great commentary on the class struggle and the difference between the American and the English of that period. In Endless Night the darkness that pervades the novel is both it’s setting and the people who live in it.