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Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

Towards Zero (1944)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Superintendent Battle (5)

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1,978345,077 (3.7)1 / 100



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English (31)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I remember enjoying the play "Towards Zero". The perpetrator's motive and method behind their madness, so to speak, are what I enjoyed most in both the versions. The novel version of the story is essentially the same, but I feel the atmosphere of fear and tension were much better crafted in the play. Like most of my mystery reads, the romance angle is what I disliked most. This was one of Christie's personal favorites and I can see why. However, I prefer the play to the novel. The story may be the same, but the treatment makes a difference. ( )
  Porua | Nov 17, 2018 |
Superintendent Battle is on vacation visiting his nephew who is also a policeman. Elderly criminologist, Mr. Treves, believed that the murder was the end of the story - not the start and talked about all the various facts and people all had to cross paths before a murder happened. He was vacationing at Gull's Point and invited to the home of Lady Tressilian. Her nephew, Neville Strange has invited his first wife to join him and his second wife to the Tressilian home. The Lady Tressilian ends up dead and his first wife is the suspect although Battle didn't like it. There was also an episode about this in the Agatha Christie - Marple BBC series although they added Jane Marple to the story.
  taurus27 | Nov 24, 2017 |
I read this book again, because I didn't remember reading it..... But once I got into the story I remembered I had read it, or something very very similar to it.

The book begins w/ a group of barristers at their club relating stories and Mr. Trewes the senior member speaking about a child that had shot & killed another child w/ a bow and arrow....... It was supposedly an accident, but the one who had killed had been seen practicing w/ a bow & arrow quite some time prior.

Neville is married to Kay & divorced from Audrey.... Audrey always goes to visit Neville's family in September and this particular year Neville persuades his Aunt to allow him & Kay to visit at the same time as Audrey... hoping the women might become "friends".

Mr. Trewes is a long-time friend of the family and he is invited to dinner.... He then tells the story of the two children, alerting someone to the fact they have been recognized. Later that night upon returning to his hotel, he is forced to climb 3 flights of stairs to his room as the lift is out of order. Mr. Trewes succumbs to exhaustion & dies.

Days later, the Aunt is found bludgeoned to death, and at first all the evidence points to Neville... then later to Neville's first wife Audrey.....

A very good story, w/ a few slurs towards Italians (because of course, Christie loved to add her personal prejudices into her stories) and a bit of romance......

It certainly held my interest...... ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 8, 2017 |
‘I like a good detective story,’ he said. ‘But, you know, they begin in the wrong place! They begin with the murder. But the murder is the end. The story begins long before that– years before sometimes– with all the causes and events that bring certain people to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day.

What makes a good detective story? Suspense? Atmosphere? An outrageous plot? Memorable characters? Twists?

As with many others of Christie's stories, Towards Zero relies on a set of characters, the type of which is already familiar to Christie's readers. The setting (a version of country house) and plot (errm....murder), is also in line with the expectation of the "typical" Christie novel. What I had not expected was for Christie to actually question the whole setup of her "typical" story by proclaiming that the story cannot stop with the detection of the murderer but that it needs to reveal the background in order for the story of the murder to be understood.

It's almost like Christie used this story to prove that the police investigation needs to include an understanding of the psychology of the characters involved in order to successfully solve the crime.
But did she need to do this? Surely, the fact that her Marple and Poirot act as the psychologists to aid the inspectors in her other books is proof enough that there is a partnership between the two?

Towards Zero does not feature Marple or Poirot but instead has Inspector Battle, who takes on the role of the "enlightened" policeman. We learn early on that he has little time for amateur psychology, and later we learn that he is also capable of trickery - although, Christie stays away from implying that there is a member of the police who would use trickery to get a murderer to confess. No, she added a different character to do this.

Which brings me to one of the few complaints I have about the story - the multitude of characters. There are so many of them that it is hard to keep track of. Some are mentioned, but then disappear in almost the next scene - with no relevance to the story.
Were they included to merely bulk out the pages?

I mean, I really enjoyed the main plot and characters, but I wish she had spent more time fleshing them out, rather than just throwing new characters in the mix. Maybe getting to learn more about the characters would have also helped the ending, which reminded me of the somewhat creepy relationship in Du Maurier's Rebecca:

‘You needn’t,’ said Audrey softly, ‘look so stern.’
He said gently as he came towards her: ‘Last time I had my hands on you, you felt like a bird– struggling to escape. You’ll never escape now…’
She said: ‘I shall never want to escape.’
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Toward Zero – Agatha Christie
Audio performance by Hugh Fraser
4 stars

Elaborately plotted and full of red herrings, this is Agatha Christie at her best. Each character is given nearly a chapter of back story before it becomes clear exactly what the story will be about. Especially obscure is a little scene between Inspector Battle, his daughter and her headmistress at the very beginning of the book. How on earth is that going to tie in to a murder investigation? However, it does play its part when, without any help from Hercule Poirot, Inspector Battle solves the case.
I truly felt like Dame Agatha had me like a fish on a hook. A few little clues; the line plays out. Yes, I think I’ve solved it; then the line jerks and I’m caught again! I’ve just one complaint. Once again there is a pitiful romantic side story. She really could not write a believable romance.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asbach, MetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laine, Anna-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuggle, MicheleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volpatti, LiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The group round the fireplace was nearly all composed of lawyers or those who had an interest in the law.
The man in the hospital bed shifted his body slightly and stifled a groan.
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Disambiguation notice
aka Come and Be Hanged
L'Heure zéro = Towards Zero
ISBN 2744110299 is for Un cadavre dans la bibliothèque / À l'hôtel Bertram, Translation of The Body in the Library AND At Bertram's Hotel
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312981309, Mass Market Paperback)

"I like a good detective story, but they begin in the wrong place! They begin with the murder. But the murder is the end. The story begins long before that." So remarks esteemed criminologist Mr. Treves. Truer words have never been spoken, for a psychopathic killer has insinuated himself , with cunning manipulation, into a quiet village on the river Tern. But who is his intended victim? What are his unfathomable motives? And how and when will he reach the point of murder...the zero point? In the ingenious and noteworthy departure for Agatha Christie, it's the intricate workings of a pathological mind that becomes the stuff of startling mystery as group of friends at a seaside resort remain blithely unaware that their weekend will be the death of them all...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:29 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player? To the casual observer, apparently nothing. But when a house party gathers at Gull's Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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