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Towards Zero Paperback – Print, February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Agatha Christie has surpassed herself.” (New York Times)

“Masterly storytelling.” (Times Literary Supplement (London))

“Agatha Christie set the bar.” (Katherine Hall Page, Agatha award-winning author of the Faith Fairchild Mysteries)

From the Back Cover

What is the connection among a failed suicideattempt, a wrongful accusation oftheft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic lifeof 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, earlierevents come to a dramatic head. As SuperintendentBattle discovers, it is all part of a carefullylaid plan—for murder.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Kangaroo Pocket Book, 21st Printing November 1974 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062073540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062073549
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By D. Recio, SJ on July 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If Christie's Towards Zero (1944), published after The Moving Finger (1943) and before Death Comes As the End (1945), ranks as a personal favorite, it does so largely because it is one of Christie's novels which I return to repeatedly and find myself quickly engrossed, even though I know its ending.

Christie's power in Towards Zero is her ability to create a sinister air which permeates this novel written at the height of her career. While the absence of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot may disappoint Christie fans, Superintendent Battle, whose role remains relatively marginal for much of the action of the novel, is the primary detective in the story. Like many of Christie's novels, Towards Zero is an English countryhouse murder mystery in which a limited number of suspects all congregate in one particular location.

Lady Tressilian's home, Gull's Point, overlooks a river which empties into Easterhead Bay. There, Lady Tressilian lives in relative peace with her companion, Mary Aldin, a sheepish young woman who acts as a secretary to Lady Tressilian. As the late summer approaches, Lady Tressilian finds herself hosting a series of guests, particularly her late husband's ward, Nevile Strange, accompanied by his new wife, Kay. Unfortunately, Nevile's first wife, Audrey, has also been invited. Christie, hardly prone to comedy comparable to a Noel Coward play, allows us to see the competing affections between these three characters. Why did Nevile leave his first wife whom everyone loved? Why does Kay find Audrey frightening? And why, after being rejected, does Audrey agree to come and visit Gull's Point at the latter end of the summer?

Eventually, we meet Mr.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Elera Tempest on January 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Call me dumb, but this is my all-time sentimental favorite that left me gaping the 1st time I read it (waaay back when I was still in mini-skirts & pony-tails). Years - and dozens of Christie - later, it still stands high as the most amazing murder web ever-penned. A touch of romance here & there doesn't hurt either. A stunner woven with magnetic story-telling, glittering characters & a sensational, mind-shattering ending. Pure EVIL !
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Klein on May 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Agatha Christie was at the top of her form in the 1940's and this novel first published in 1944 could very well be her very best. Not only do we have an outstanding detective story complete with murder, motives, opportunities, red herrings, and numerous suspects, but we also have Christie probing the mind of a psychopathic killer. She has done this in other works, but never so brilliantly as she does it in "Towards Zero."
The setting is the lovely seaside estate of Lady Tressilian, a widow with no close relatives. However, several distant relations often visit her and our killer has chosen just such an occasion when there will be a houseparty as his "zero hour."
Audrey Strange is an especially memorable character from this novel as is her ex-husband Nevile, a well-known tennis star who is visiting with his current wife Kay. Other characters include: Mary Aldin, companion/secretary to Lady Tressilian ; Thomas Royde, an old friend home on leave; Ted Latimer, a friend of Kay's before her marriage to Nevile, and Superintendent Battle who returns for his finest appearance of all the five Christie novels he is in.
A young girl's trouble at school, a failed suicide attempt, and a tragic automobile accident from the past all figure prominently in this excellent story with an unforgettable and chilling ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By philthrillerlover on April 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Written in her heyday in the 1940s, Christie's "Toward Zero" is a notable departure, and a good one at that. Most of her novels use perhaps 20-30 pages to introduce the characters/suspects, and then the murder is committed. This novel on the other hand, spends more than half it's length developing the characters and giving glimpses into their various motivations. Just when the tension seems to be ratcheted up to the breaking point, a murder is committed and one of Christie's most underrated detectives, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, is called upon to cut his holiday short and assist with solving the murder of Lady Camilla Tressilian.

The structure of the plot is hinted at in the prologue by old Mr Treves, a highly respected lawyer and criminologist: "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--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...all converging towards a given spot..And then when the time comes--over the top! Zero hour. Yes, all of them converging towards zero..."

Christie is famous for her closed-circle mysteries, and in that respect this novel is much like many of her others. Various circumstances bring a group of family and aquaintances to the home of Lady Tressilian at Gull's Point for a holiday. After the murder, the pool of suspects is limited to this group, each with a potential motive to murder. The previous half of the book is devoted to establishing what could possibly make someone want to savagely kill old Lady Tressilian.
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