In the novel Towards Zero, Mr Treves was an elderly solicitor with an interest in murder. He was the senior and best known member of a famous firm of solicitors and had settled many delicate cases out of court. He was said to "know more of backstairs history than any man in England". He was a specialist on criminology and had a spto pecial interest in murders. He had a pet opinion that murder stories always start at the wrong place, at the murder itself. Instead, one ought to look at the murder as the end. The murder is the culmination of all the causes and events which bring "certain people to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day." All the factors converge on "zero hour", the murder itself.
At the beginning of the novel, Treves learnt that the Marine Hotel in Leahead, where he had vacationed for the last twenty five years, was being torn down. Knowing his predicament, Rufus Lord, a friend of his, recommended the Balmoral Court in Saltcreek. He also gave Mr Treves a letter of introduction to Lady Camilla Tressilian. Lord thought that Lady Tressilian would enjoy Mr Treves's company.
After dinner at Gull's Point, Lady Tressilian's house, Treves recounted a story of how two children were playing with bows and arrows together and one of them shot the other. The inquest returned a verdict of accidental death but later, a farmer said he had seen one of the children practising with a bow and arrow in a woods. The farmer never reported this officially. However Treves was convinced it was a case of murder. Moreover, the child had a certain physical peculiarity and Treves claimed that even after all these years, he could still recognise the person now grown-up.
Walking back to his hotel after dinner, Treves found the a "out-of-order" sign on the lift and he was forced to climb the stairs to his top floor room. This proved too much for Treves who had a weak heart and he died. His death was thought to be an accident. However, it was speculated that Treves might have been killed to prevent him from identifying the person in the bow and arrow murder case.
Agatha Christie's Marple
In the 2007 ITV adaptation of the story. Treves is portrayed by Tom Baker. Here he is given the firstname "Frederick" or "Freddie". He makes his remarks about how one should of a murder as the culmination of many factors going a long time back to Miss Marple and not to a circle of legal friends at a club. Lady Tressilian thinks he is a bore in contrast with the original where she enjoys conversing with him. His conversation with Lady Tressilian about Nevile and his two women in the original is given to Miss Marple and her Ladyship. His story about the child with the bow and arrow, and his subsequent death while climbing the stairs is depicted faithfully.