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4.6 out of 5 stars
57
4.6 out of 5 stars
Towards Zero (Agatha Christie Facsimile Edtn)
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 4 January 2011
This is one of a handful of Superintendent Battle stories and one of the minority of Christie stories not featuring either Poirot or Miss Marple but do NOT be put off by that.

The story begins in February with an unnamed person writing a plan to murder another unspecified person later in the year, in September. The plan is clear and carefully detailed by someone obsessed with one thought alone, of murder more than six months into the future.

In September, Lady Camilla Tressilian hosts several guests for a fortnight at her home, Gull's Point. Early during the party, a visitor tells a story to all present about a child killing another child with a bow-and-arrow. Is the murderous child connected to the events unfolding at Gulls Point? Violent death occurs at Gull's Point only days later and Superindendent Battle and his nephew, Inspector Leach, must work out the who, how and why of the murder that has taken place.

The story structure is very unusual but the inclusion of an intricate plot, unusually subtle clues and an adaptation of the real-life Devon locality of Salcombe and the Yealm estuary as a setting makes for a masterpiece.

The theme and motivation for murder is unusual for Christie, so too is the outline portrayal of a certain type of psychopathic behaviour which is extremely fascinating to discern. The characters are unusually well drawn and one can only speculate how much Christie drew on her own life as an inspiration for this story; further study of this might be fruitful.

The TV adaptation on location, with some alterations (most notably including Miss Marple) is very acceptable but the original plot structure (crucially) and some of the subtlety of the clues and red herrings in the original story is lost. (perhaps inevitably)

This was the very last Christie story that I read of all her stories but, nonetheless, not predictable because of the unusual plot and pattern. A very personal choice, I know, but I really would give this the vote for my favourite Christie story.
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on 1 May 2016
The quality of Christie's writing varies enormously, from barely literate (extraordinary, really -- where was her editor?) to pretty darned good. Towards Zero is definitely of the latter kind. Together with The Hollow (a Poirot) it's probably my favourite, albeit mainly for the characterisation and the portrayal of relationships. In fact, it seems almost a pity that there has to be a crime, although the suspense while waiting for it makes up for that. I found myself really feeling for the characters, and thinking about them afterwards. I do rather wonder if she got a bit fed up with it towards the last few pages, but it doesn't matter; she'd done the job by then. Don't miss it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 July 2017
An interesting tale, well told and featuring Superintendent Battle. The plot itself is a deceptively intricate one - perhaps more a study into the intricacies of the human psyche - a psychological study. The overall setting is well drawn. Not a personal favourite from Agatha Christie for me, it's rather formulaic and there are many better but still enjoyable all the same and well worth a read.
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on 30 March 2012
Having been an Agatha Christie fan for many years I have read all her books. This one I feel rates as one of the best. As you read the book you become involved in the atmosphere and tension between the characters. As is typical with Agatha Christie the plot is excellent. Usually when I read a non Hercule Poirot book I miss him but that was not the case for this book which keeps the reader involved without the little Belgium detective and his eccentricities. A must read for any Agatha Christie Fan.
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on 19 October 2017
Another brilliant murder mystery, I couldn't. Put it down, can't. Wait to start my next one. I am really hooked on her books
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on 27 April 2017
A rather straightforward plot,with the story slowly building up to the second murder(while the first wasn't readily recognised as such),and ending with a rather sharp and unexpected twist.Altogether a good read,with Superinetndent Battle taking over from Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot!
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on 27 April 2017
Good read.
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on 30 July 2017
Brilliant as always!
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on 18 July 2017
Excellent, thank you.
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on 11 November 2014
An intriguing story the outcome of which is difficult to foresee.
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