Saturday, July 2, 2011
Max Mallowan, the renowned archaeologist and second husband to Dame Agatha, once observed that Endless Night was perhaps her darkest novel.
It is a bit of a dark horse, Miss Lemon must agree, starting out of the gate as it does with the breathless first-person point-of-view of Michael Rogers, a salt-of-the-earth type of man; but a dreamer and a drifter, too. Rogers is a man with a past, but one who's quick to point out that so many of us are -- especially the ones who wind up at the center of a crime story. In this case, the story's got to do with a fantastically wealthy young American heiress, a Swedish architect, a lonely plot of land called 'Gypsy's Acre,' a curse, a real-life gypsy, and many, many hangers on.
Oh, and did Miss Lemon mention pasts?
There's no Poirot in Endless Night; or Hastings, Japp or Miss Marple, either. Even so, this is Agatha Christie at the top of her game. She seems to inhabit wholly the sensibility and manner of Michael Rogers, a convincingly rendered voice right down to his arrogance as a man and insecurity as a writer. As Miss Lemon mentioned, there's a breathless quality to Rogers' narration, and according to The Secret Notebooks of Agatha Christie , she wrote Endless Night in the space of six weeks versus the usual six months to a year that it took her to write other books.
And as in Third Girl, Mrs. Christie strives for, and, in Miss Lemon's estimation, succeeds in capturing a surprisingly modern tone in characterization and in plot detail.
Without giving too much away, Miss Lemon urges you to read Endless Night. Be patient, should it seem as if not much is happening in the way of murder or mischief. When you get to the end, you'll see not only a neatly fashioned crime and solution but also a startling allusion to some of Mrs. Christie's greatest novels of the past.
Miss Lemon won't say which ones.