Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie - The 1944 Club

Oh I had such ambitions for the 1944 Club but as the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men…  I hope I do get to Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge one of these days and I have The Dangling Man by Saul Bellow gathering dust here on my shelf. What I did manage to read was Towards Zero by the inimitable Agatha Christie.
I love Agatha Christie. All of her mysteries are fairly short and a total breeze to read. I always desperately want to know who did the crime and I almost never guess right.  
The book starts off rather slowly and confusedly, starting first with a semi-retired octogenarian solicitor named Mr. Treves ruminating on the many threads that lead up towards a murder,
‘“All the converging towards a given spot…And then when the time comes – over the top! Zero Hour. Yes all of them converging towards zero…” He repeated: “Towards Zero..”  Then he gave a a quick little shudder.’  
Then the scene moves to a man who made failed suicide attempt now convalescing in hospital and then to Superintendent Battle (one of Christies lesser known and lesser used detectives) solving a boarding school theft involving his teenage daughter by using psychology. The reader may wonder what is going on. Where are the dead bodies?
But then the story starts to move in to classic Christie mystery mode as a summer house party at  Gull’s Point, home of  widowed Lady Tressilian, starts to form.  For the cast of characters there are living at Gull’s Point  Lady Tressilian, bedridden but still formidable (and rich), and her companion, Mary Aldin who may not be as willing to give up her best years to playing nursemaid to an old woman as she seems.  Coming for a fortnight’s visit is Lady Tressilian’s former ward and heir, Neville Strange and his new, rather vulgar (and much younger) wife, Kay, Neville’s ex-wife, the long suffering Audrey and Thomas Royde who grew up with Audrey and has been carrying a torch for her for decades. Finally, turning up like a bad penny is lothario Ted Latimer who has the hots for Kay.
What could possibly go wrong?
Christie does a good job keeping the tension high and when the murder does happen, I was surprised at who was killed because it really could have been any of them; everyone’s tempers were quite frayed by that point.
The resolution of the mystery and romantic pairings are perhaps a little too convenient but honestly I don’t mind that. I had a lot of fun being duped by the red herrings and enjoying the upper class scene of pre-war Britain.
Many thanks to Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings for starting the club.  Even though I didn't get to everything I intended this time, it is always good fun thinking about the possible reading choices and checking out what other people read for the prompt!

Friday, October 5, 2018


I meant to post this LAST MONTH but then life got in the way. 

I definitely want to participate in Readers Imbibing Peril XIII which started waaay back on September 1 and runs through to October 31. This year it is hosted by blogger My Capricious Life.  

I mean, how could I skip this? It is the THIRTEENTH EDITION! Muwahaha!

At this point, however, I am only going to try for Peril the Third, which is to read only one book that fits within any of the following R.I.P. definitions: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, or Supernatural. I think I can manage to squeeze in one book in the next three weeks. 

I am planning on reading Slade House by David Mitchell which I meant to read last year for RIP XII but didn't get to. This is also a book I have owned for a while and as usual I have to push myself to read what I own instead of becoming distracted by new books or library books.

Another October Blog-event I hope to take part in is the 1944 Club hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings between October 15 and October 21. 

Originally I had planned to read Dangling Man by Saul Bellow but because I am currently reading Humboldt's Gift by Bellow now I have decided against more Bellow. He is not the kind of author I could "binge-read" as the kids say.   

Instead, I think I am going to read one of the two Agatha Christie books published in that year: Towards Zero or Death Comes as the End.  I don't own a copy of either but her books read so fast and they aren't very long, I hardly feel guilty about sneaking them into my reading now and again. :)

Alas, here in Southern California, there isn't much weather-wise to mark the Fall season so I am really pleased when there are prompts to help me direct my reading choices!  Do any of you read seasonally or do you, like me, let external forces nudge you in one direction or another?