Wealthy old Lady Tresselian is hosting an annual gathering at her sprawling seaside estate. Her guests include family members as well as acquaintances; chief among them are Neville Strange, her late husband’s ward; Neville’s first wife Audrey Strange; and Neville’s current wife Kay. The presence of Neville’s ex as well as his current wife makes everyone uncomfortable, and causes a lot of tongues to wag.
Earlier events come to a dramatic head when Lady Tresselian is found brutally murdered in her bed. Because she was wealthy and left nearly everyone in the house a substantial amount of money, they are plenty of suspects with a good old-fashioned motive of sheer greed.
Superintendent Battle, who was vacationing nearby, arrives on the scene to investigate, and soon discovers that all the evidence points to Neville Strange as the killer. The only problem is, the case seems too easy. The killer appeared to be sloppy and careless, leaving behind clues that any amateur detective could follow. That’s when Battle gets suspicious and thinks that perhaps there is more to the case than meets the eye.
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 it’s all part of a carefully laid plan – for murder.
Agatha Christie gives the reader plenty of red herrings, making it difficult to guess the real answer before everything is revealed in the end.
Quote from TOWARDS ZERO by a character on the fatal moment ~ the ZERO HOUR “ I like a good detective story, but, you know, they begin in the wrong place! They begin with the murder. But the murder is the end. The story begins long before that – years before sometimes – with all the causes and events that bring certain people to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day.”