Friday, November 29, 2013

Battle's Lost

TOWARDS ZERO.
By Agatha Christie.
Dodd, Mead.
1944. $2.00
For some incomprehensible reason Miss Marple solves it in the TV version (2007). Some folks liked that:
My expectations were low, but I resolved not to make too many comparisons with the original book, and in fact it proved to be an eminently watchable programme; Miss Marple fitted into it pretty well. — Martin Edwards, DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (16 March 2010). (Video for sale here.)
What's wrong with this picture?
With respect to Christie's original novel, here are some views excerpted from the GAD Wiki:
One of Christie's half-dozen best . . . The misdirection is superb . . . — Nicholas Fuller
The plot, brilliant as it is, is not what makes 'Towards Zero' so particular. The book's singularity lies in its construction . . . The least omniscient of Christie's detectives, Superintendent Battle's persona and methods are quite remote from Poirot's or Marple's. He is basically a pre-Golden Age figure and that part of the book reads like Christie visiting and paying tribute to her elders and betters, most notably A.E.W. Mason or even Gaboriau. — Xavier Lechard
Christie's TOWARDS ZERO is unusual in several respects, not the least being that it received two complete reviews in THE SATURDAY REVIEW. It must have been a slow mystery season:
Inspector Battle unfolds the train of events which made the death of an invalid old lady inevitable. - Some ingenious incidents but rather slow-paced. - Verdict: Not up to the author's best. (TSR, April 15, 1944)
Strange death of elderly Englishwoman with batch of tragic kin brought to watery solution by pertinacious Insp. Battle. - Worked out with characteristic Christie finesse, but plot develops very leisurely and dramatic pay-off doesn't make up for earlier chapters. - Verdict: Poirot, come home! (TSR, June 17, 1944)
. . . and this one?
Category: Detective fiction

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