Saturday, March 13, 2021

Agatha Christie - Towards Zero

An elderly widow is murdered at a clifftop seaside house...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...

Comment: At this point, I believe it's unnecessary to say how much of a fan of Agatha Christie I am. This is only the 6th post commenting on a book by the author but way before I even thought about having this blog I had read plenty of her books and I feel I would appreciate them all even more now were I able to nowadays have time for re-reads.

In this story we find several clues which are presented to us by an apparent vast but unrelated set of characters. As each person is facing daily routines related to their personal lives, the reader is unaware that a murder is being planned and the it's finally executed while most characters are at Gull's Point, the house of an old woman who has no patience to mince words. Superintendent Battle has his vacation ruined but he cleverly devices a way to catch the killer...

The mastery with which Agatha Christie plans and develops her plots continues to surprise and entertain me. The clues are all there, everything we need to know is there but we just can't connect the dots without help. At least, this is the idea I keep repeating every time I read another one of her mysteries.

In this story the cast spends some time at a sort of house party and the reasons why they go there are explained with detail, which is a clue on itself. Why the place is the way it is and why we are given scenes from the POV of characters who seem to have noting to do with it before the actual arty begins is, obviously, another big clue. The setting up is clever and astute and when the crime is solved, it's no wonder every detail starts to make sense.

The author is known for her red herrings and misdirection so of course we also have secondary things put in our way, so that we can be distracted from the real killer's identity. I'm usually bad at guessing, I prefer to be immersed in the mystery than to look at it analytically (unless it's a very bad or very obvious scheme) and I didn't guess who the bad guy was. At some point I wondered but then some red herring came and I changed my focus... the author would find me certainly predictable!

I won't go much into it, the book isn't big, the author is point on in creating her plots without unnecessary fillers but I don't want to hint at anything that might spoil a new reader's experience. Suffice to say, the story is precise, linear and,a s always, the eye for the psychological side of everything, perfectly done. 

I think some details in the end were a little exaggerated, I also found some connecting points a bit forced to have felt natural... meaning some details have to happen a certain way and there were a few things that were obviously plot derived and didn't feel as integral to the overall story as they could. Nevertheless, I was captivated and couldn't put this down. I'll certainly space the other books by her I still haven' read...

Grade: 8/10

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