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Agatha Christie is the author of 80 crime novels and19 plays and six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott.
"Towards Zero" is one of those rare novels of Christie , where the mystery is solved by Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard .
The Audio Cd has been Narrated by Hugh Fraser for this well written book.
The Times Literary Supplement of July 22, 1944 was overwhelmingly positive about the book: "Undiscriminating admirers of Miss Christie must surely miss the thrill of realizing when she is at her best. If this argument is sound then Towards Zero is for the critical..
"Towards Zero" was first published in 1944 and some say that it could very well be her very best. Not only is this an outstanding detective story, but you have Christie brilliantly probing the psychology of a jealous psychopathic killer. The absence of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot should not really disappoint Christie fans..
The Story of Towards Zero
It begins with a group of people discussing about a much talked of case which had finished at the old bailey, making technical criticisms on the handling of the case...Mr Treves, a very famous criminologist had this to say about murders and detection in general "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...That fatal moment, he maintained, should really be the ending, the finishing stroke or "Zero Hour"
This is a typical English country house murder mystery where a group of people are spending a weekend and the crime takes place making all the members suspects..
It is late summer and Lady Tressilian is hosting a house party at her home in Gull's Point where she lives in relative peace with her companion, Mary Aldin,a distant relative. The house overlooks a river which empties into Easterhead Bay. She is inviting some guests- Good looking Neville Strange, a first class tennis player , with vast amounts of wealth and money, an extremely beautiful wife Kay, and to all appearances with no cares or worries.
Nevile's first wife, Audrey ,a quiet, stately dignified lady, has also been invited, in fact it has been Audrey's practice since the past several years to visit and spend a few weeks with Lady Tressilian during the summer.The big question is why have the 3 people agreed to come at the same time creating an awkwardness among the other guests.In fact Neville can hardly conceal his tender feelings for his first wife which is there for all to see- so why did they divorce in the first place?
Then there is Thomas Royde, a planter from the Far East and a childhood friend of Audrey, who has been secretly and faithfully in love with her and had never married , now hoping to win back Audrey .
Then there is Mr Treves the famous solicitor and criminologist who is an old friend of the Tressilians- but Unfortunately, after a lively after dinner discussion on murder undetected , his recounting of an incident in which two children playing eventually leading to a fatality,one of the member finds Mr. Treves knowledge far too dangerous to ignore. And this person was responsible for placing an "out of order" sign outside the elevator so that the aging Mr. Treves was forced to climb a flights of stairs.He was found dead the next day.
And there is MacWhirter, a man who had returned to Gull's Point to see the place on the cliff edge from where he had dived down in an attempt to commit suicide , but rescued by the coast guards, only to become an important factor in this murder investigation that completely changes his life.
Superintendent Battle enjoying a break with his nephew Inspector James Leach, at Gull's Point, gets drawn into the case as he begins to assist his nephew..
And now it seems like everyone at Gulls Point, including Superintendent Battle - is hurtling straight towards zero.
My views on the novel
This is definitely among her best novels.Very interesting and the characters very complex , and yet if one were to think back the clues were all there.But thats the magic in her books.It seems easy once you read the entire book.
Agatha Christie has successfully created a sinister atmosphere here in this novel.
The interaction between Nevile and his first wife Audrey are interesting to read but at the same time create a sense of foreboding.The friction between Kay and Audrey is understandable, at the same time i felt very sorry for poor Kay caught between the two, not knowing how to react intelligently to the strange drama between her husband and his first wife Audrey.
I particularly loved the characterisation of Macwhirter , who is a total outsider, who just happens to be there ,and how he assumes a pivotal role in clearing the mystery.
Agatha Christie in keeping up the suspense, allows the reader to briefly peep into the mind of the killer ,but she hardly reveals anything that might give the end away and manages to keep us guessing right until the last minute.
Author - Agatha Christie
Reader - Hugh Fraser
A new CD audio edition of Agatha Christie's thriller, featuring Superintendent Battle. 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 houseparty gathers at Gull's Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. It's all part of a carefully paid plan - for murder!