Title: Towards Zero
Author: Agatha Christie
Narrators: Philip Fox, Hugh Bonneville, Marcia Warren
Audiobook Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“What is the connection among 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 house party gathers at Gull’s Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. As Superintendent Battle discovers, it is all part of a carefully laid plan—for murder.”
Thoughts: It has been at least a decade since I read an Agatha Christie novel. Towards Zero was a great re-introduction to her elaborate plots, multiple characters and hidden motives. Out of all her plots, it isn’t the most complex one there is, which makes it a perfect candidate for audio.
Towards Zero is what you would expect from Dame Christie. The characters all have hidden agendas, blurring the true motives for the murder(s). None of the characters are truly likable, meaning that the reader can and does suspect every one of them, as Dame Christie intends. The characters themselves follow a similar formula – the gruff, know-it-all detective, the extremely wealthy matriarch, the put-upon companion/servant, the gold-digging wife, the unrequited lover. In essence, there are no surprises as to the characters or the plot itself, especially for long-time fans of Dame Christie.
The BBC audio production is amazing. It was very much like an old-fashioned radio production, complete with sound effects and scene changes. Each of the actors does a fantastic job embodying his or her character; the reader has no doubt behind each of the character’s motivations and motives. The large ensemble adds to the complexity of the story without adding any confusion.
At one hour and 45 minutes, Towards Zero makes for an engaging afternoon auditory experience. It isn’t the most difficult Agatha Christie novel, as I had a fairly good idea who the murderer was, which never happens in a mystery novel. Still, it was a great alternative to a normal audiobook, with its more stage-like performance. If audiobook fans are looking for something different without having to invest a lot of time, Towards Zero would be a great choice.