1983 copyright; "The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection"; Bantam Books publishers, Toronto; hardbound leather; very good condition with unmarked pages.
Towards Zero is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in June 1944, and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in July of the same year. The first US edition of the novel retailed at $2.00 and the UK edition at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6).
Lady Tressilian invites her ward for his annual visit at Gull's Point. He insists on bringing both his former wife and his present wife, though Lady Tressilian finds this awkward. Her old friend Treves dies, then she is murdered as well; Superintendent Battle and his nephew are called in. The book is the last to feature Superintendent Battle.
The novel was well received at publication, noted for the well-developed characters. A later review called it superb as to the plot, noting also how well the novel depicted the gentlemanly behaviour expected at the main tennis tournament in 1944.
Lady Tressilian is now confined to her bed, and still invites guests to her seaside home at Gull's Point during the summer. Tennis star Nevile Strange, former ward of Lady Tressilian's deceased husband, incurs her displeasure. He proposes to bring both his new wife, Kay, and his former wife, Audrey, to visit at the same time – a change from past years. Lady Tressilian grudgingly agrees to this set of incompatible guests. Staying in hotels nearby are Kay's friend, Ted; a long time family friend, Thomas Royde, home after a long stretch working overseas and still faithfully waiting on the sidelines for Audrey; and Mr Treves, an old solicitor and long time friend of the Tressilians.
The dinner party is uncomfortable, as Lady Tressilian had predicted. That night, Mr Treves told a story of an old case, where a child killed another child with an arrow, which was ruled an accident. The child was given a new name and a fresh start, despite a local man having seen the child practising assiduously with a bow and arrow. Mr Treves remembers the case and the child as a result of a distinctive physical feature which he does not reveal. The next morning, Treves is found dead in his hotel room and his death is attributed to heart failure from climbing up the stairs to his room the previous night, greatly upsetting Lady Tressilian. Thomas and Ted are mystified, as they saw a note stating that the lift was out of order when they walked Treves back. They learn from hotel staff that the lift was in working order that night. His death is ruled to be from natural causes.
Lady Tressilian is brutally murdered in her bed, and her maid drugged...