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Towards Zero [Mass Market Paperback]

Agatha Christie
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 2012
Mystery's #1 bestseller . . . second to none!

A Christie classic, featuring Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard. . . . It's murder most foul when someone at the Gull's Point guesthouse kills Mr. Treves, leaving Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard with a number of suspects--and zero evidence...

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Review

"Masterly storytelling" Times Literary Supplement "Agatha Christie has surpassed herself" New York Times

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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This 1944 mystery begins with a group of criminologists discussing murder cases, one remarks that murder mysteries are written backwards, beginning with the crime when in fact, the real story begins much earlier.
The action then shifts to other characters as the countdown to zero hour begins. The diverse group includes a would be suicide; an athletic young man and his current and former wives; a planter from the Far East; and a wealthy invalid and her impoverished companion. We see these characters and others take the steps that ultimately lead then to an isolated seacoast estate and murder.
This is a Sgt. Battle mystery (The Seven Dials) and we are treated to some background information on him. Poirot is mentioned but only in passing. Christie, speaking through Battle, makes clear her feelings about the then current fad of psychology and those who attempt to apply it while only half understanding the theories.
The 60 year old story has worn well overall. A 21st century reader would be puzzled only by the stigma that some of the characters applied to divorce and the relatively unsophisicated forensic proceedures. This is, as is typical of Christie's work, well plotted, the clues are all there for the reader to follow through the maze of red herrings but nearly impossible to solve before the detective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please be patient and don't throw the book away May 22 2004
By APRICOT
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first half of this book is slow-paced and rather boring. But please be patient and don't throw the book away. It is just marvelous how black turns to white and white turns to black at the ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She is all time great.No doubt in it May 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I don't know how her story would be if she is alive in this technological world. Story starrts slowly but each every charector has an role in the end. U may feel that some stories
about Mr Battle and a man who tried suicide boring in the begginning.But keep on going and u will never turn it down.
Dame Agatha explains the reason why each charector came to that house.An extremely well planned murder,of course,main objective of the murderer is different from what he/she did. Surely a must read novel for mystery novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect June 14 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This has to be one of Agatha Christie's best ever books. There are a lot of them, yes (Around 15!) but i would suggest that this taut thriller is probably within the top five.
The characters are very well drawn. Realistic and believeable. The story is tense, not too overdramatic, and suspenseful. The story begins brilliantly (rather like the beginning of And Then there Were None) with all the characters seperately going about their own thing, slowly unfolding the reasons why they come to be at Gull's Point over this fateful weekend. It opens with esteemed lawyers discussing criminal trials...then moves to a murder carefully planning out the deed...onto newlywedded famous tennis player with his new wife Kay...to the attempted suicide of man by driving himself over a cliff. (A man to return to Gull's Point in the future to see the place where he almost died, only to become an important factor in a murder investigation that will change his life...and so on.
The setting is good. The plot is different from some of her other stuff. (Something all her best books have in common, an element of extreme originality in solution, plot, setting, or character.)
This is actually a brilliant thriller. The atmosphere is fear-filled, and the solution brilliant. She double-trumps the reader's expectations and assumptions once again, in an incredibly fine detective novel.
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By snowy
Format:Mass Market Paperback
At the prologue, veteran lawyer Mr Treves remarked that investigations at a murder oft looked at the murder as the starting point when oft murder was the end and that the real story began long before.
And so Agatha Christie introduced many disparate threads in the beginning that appeared to have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with each other - Inspector Battle's daughter getting into trouble in school, a failed suicide of a man let down by the world when all he did was to be honest, a young man getting his wife and ex-wife down to his adopted country seat home at Gull's Point.
The deaths did not come in until about half the book, the first person to make the exit being Mr Treve himself. Next was the elderly widow Lady Tressilian, matron of Gull's Point.
Rounding up the usual suspects, we have Neville Strange, young, rich, semi-pro sportsman; his second wife Kay, a glamorous hothead from the Riviera; his divorced first wife Audrey, a complete contrast in character to Kay, stately, willowy and dignified; Thomas Royde, family friend on home visit from Malaya, devoted to Audrey for years; Edward Latimer, friend to and similarly devoted to Kay; Mary Adlin, Lady Tressilian's companion and manager of the household; plus an assortment of domestic help.
Did Kay kill Lady Tresslian, thinking she would be the beneficiary to the legacy as wife of Neville Strange? Especially when Neville declared he intended to divorce her to get Audrey back.
Was Audrey the culprit, knowing she was the actual beneficiacry, being the wife of Neville when the will was drawn up, mentioned in name specifically?
Or was it Neville, to thwart Lady Tresillian's objections to his divorcing Kay to get Audrey?
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