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, Auguries of Innocence
Michael Rogers – man who has spent his life bouncing from one place to another – tells the story of how he falls in love with both Ellie, a rich heiress, and Gipsy’s Acre, an old house that he plans to rebuild. There’s just the small matter of a curse on the property…
There aren’t that many Agatha Christie novels that I haven’t read. I got through the Poirot and Marple books at a very early age (although I am enjoying the occasional re-read) but for whatever reason, I basically ignored the rest. I’ve caught up with a lot of the non-series books, but Endless Night was overlooked. I’ve heard good things about it – apparently it was Dame Agatha’s favourite of her latter works – can I possibly disagree with the great lady herself?
Yup. Sorry, Agatha.
Fate is conspiring against me. The Apothecary Rose was hard to review without spoiling it (if indeed there was anything to spoil) and Endless Night is similar for both the same reason and another reason as well.
This is a book that requires patience – I was reading it on my Kindle and can state that the first criminal act that takes place, which is only a rock being thrown through a window, happens 48% of the way into the book. As for the inevitable death, that was around the 70% mark. Saying that this book takes its time is an understatement.
It was written in 1967, so it’s a very late Christie – I’ve seen it referred to as the best of her later novels (I disagree, as Hallowe’en Party was still to come… and for other reasons that will become apparent) so we have some of the slightly odd descriptions of sixties youth that tended to crop up in her work. However…
… stuff it, I’m going to have to be vague here, as there is a reason why I can’t criticise the story-telling here, and I can’t say any more than that. Any of my problems with the book would need to discuss the identity of the murderer and more besides and this is a spoiler-free blog. It’s astonishing, but never has a book constrained what I want to say more.
Right, I’m going to attempt to summarise my thoughts, but please accept my apologies for statements that I make without back-up.
- It’s too slow for me. Others will say it’s building up tension, but I didn’t find that to be the case.
- The rationale for repeating a trick from another, much better, book is weak.
- I don’t think it plays fair, but I’m not going to re-read it to check. Not convinced that it’s supposed to, as it reads more like a psychological thriller at times.
It was an engrossing enough read, but I can’t see myself ever going back to it. This is one of those books that would have worked much better as a short story or a novella – there is a need for the action to be concentrated near the end, structurally speaking, but appreciating the reason for the delaying tactics and appreciating the tactics themselves are two different things.
So… recommended for the completist. It’s a long way from her worst novels, but just as far away from her best novels.