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The Pale Horse (1961)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ariadne Oliver (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,127455,137 (3.6)114
When an elderly priest is murdered, the killer searches the victim so roughly that his already ragged cassock is torn in the process. What was the killer looking for? And what had a dying woman confided to the priest on her deathbed only hours earlier? Mark Easterbrook and his sidekick Ginger Corrigan are determined to find out. Maybe the three women who run The Pale Horse public house and who are rumored to practice the Dark Arts can provide some answers?… (more)
  1. 40
    The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: The narrator of The Pale Horse, Mark Easterbrook, reminds me of the narrator of another Agatha Christie book. Jerry Barton from The Moving Finger. In both of these stories the urban hero goes to a small town and gets entangled in a spine chilling mystery. Another thing that these two books have in common is an unconventional old lady named Mrs. Dane Calthrop, one of the more unique creations of Christie.… (more)
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English (41)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
The non-Poirot or Jane Marple books are usually hit or miss for me. However, Christie does a great job with this one. The book is slow moving at first. We follow a man named Mark Easterbrook who narrates the majority of the book. Initially we don't exactly know what's going on, we just know that there are some deaths that are somehow linked to a place called "The Pale Horse." It took me til about the 20 percent mark to get really into the book. I liked Easterbrook and was delighted with Mrs. Oliver for popping up too. She gets strong armed to sign some books at a village fete by Easterbrook and makes mention of not liking fetes after what happened at the last one she was at (Dead Man's Folly).

"The Pale Horse" follows Mark Easterbrook (who appears to be a historical writer or novelist....still unclear on that) who seems to be drifting through his life. He has a steady relationship with a woman named Hermia who he is slightly fond of, but who he finds dull. When he witnesses two young woman tousling over a young man at a coffee bar; he finds out one of the woman's names (Thomasina Tuckerton known as Tommy Tucker) and learns later that she died after reading her obituary. The book then shifts to Father Gorman who is called to give last rites to a woman who is dying. Whatever he learns disturbs him so much he goes off and writes down names. Too bad for Father Gorman that someone ends up murdering the man, not realizing that he tucked the list of names into his shoe. When the police are called up, they are flummoxed about the list of names. They realize some of the names are of people who have died, but have died of natural causes. Then we switch back to Mark and him getting pulled into the investigation.

There are a lot of characters in this one, but Christie does a great job with all of them I thought. I liked Mark. We get some reveals about his backstory that surprised me. I did like that when he ends up realizing where The Pale Horse is (near one of his relatives) he acts as if he isn't interested in going there after what many of the inhabitants say about the three women who work there. When he realizes that Hermia is not taking his concerns seriously, he goes to the local vicar's wife who believes him and also ends up getting assisted by Mrs. Oliver who gives him some suggestions about forming a partnership with Ginger Corrigan (a young lady he met when he initially came to visit his relatives).

I really enjoyed Ginger a lot. Her and Mark definitely realize something is up with The Pale Horse and refuse to just let the police do their investigation.

I also liked how Christie did foreshadowing in this one. We have Mark, Hermia, and Mark's friend and his date talking about MacBeth and the three witches and how unrealistic they are when you get into their speech and how actors portray them. I liked how Mark's friend said what would be more scary would just be three ordinary women in a village who many have come to fear. When Mark meets Thyrza Grey, Sybil Stamfordis, and Bella Webb, I got why he felt uneasy around them. Here are the three modern witches that his friend warned him about and Mark becomes afraid they do have real power to cause someone to get sick and die.

The writing was very good and I have to admit that I didn't see the ending coming at all. Per usual, smartly done by Christie. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
The Pale Horse - Christie
Audio performance by Hugh Fraser
4 stars

A truly diabolical murder for hire plot. Multiple murders. For all the effort Christie put into creating the multi-step crime with its handful of criminal facilitators, I found it easy to identify the mastermind behind the plot. Methinks he did protest too much. Or, possibly, I’d read this one long ago and retained some memory of the denouement. ( )
  msjudy | Jun 21, 2020 |
In which two deaths bury a gruesome secret – but not forever…

The cover of "The Pale Horse" always scared me as a child. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this novel. It’s a story in which threats of the supernatural merge with both the detective and the thriller genre. Nowhere else has Christie combined all three of these so well and – while it isn’t as tightly constructed as her earlier novels – "The Pale Horse" is pretty damn adept. This really isn’t a Poirot or a Marple; in fact, it’s a Tommy and Tuppence novel, if anything. Instead, the investigation is led by a young historian, Mark Easterbrook, who makes for a forthright and surprisingly invigorating lead. Amongst the supporting characters is one of Christie’s most sublime creations, Ariadne Oliver (not all that surprising ,given that she’s an echo of the author herself). Oliver, too, enlivens the story. Both the puzzle and the investigation are sound.

From an historical standpoint, "The Pale Horse" is a precursor of the two classic 1960s novels – one of which features Mrs. Oliver, and the other uses a supernatural undertone in a similar manner. Most of Christie’s ’60s and ’70s output would be forgettable, but when she tried to experiment, the Dame could still do quite well. ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 27, 2020 |
I've read most of Agatha Christie's books, but this one was new to me. I wasn't disappointed. It's a well plotted murder mystery, with clues that make perfect sense (sometimes in retrospect!) and no feeling that the author is springing a solution out of nowhere.

Given that the book is set in (I guess) the late 1950s, I was pleasantly surprised to find the writing doesn't seem as dated as other novels from that time.

Engaging mystery. Well worth a read.
  MHThaung | Apr 8, 2020 |
Een fijn boek om te lezen tijdens de coronacrisis. Je hoeft er niet vreselijk bij na te denken; af en toe wordt de plot nog een keertje herhaald. Wel veel personen om te onthouden. Ik las dit als e-book, op advies van Nicolien Mizee. ( )
  elsmvst | Apr 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nuuttila, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To
John and Helen Mildmay White
with many thanks for the opportunity
given me to see justice done
First words
There are two methods, it seems to me, of approaching this strange business of the Pale Horse.
Quotations
Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who will never be important, because he’ll always be less than a man.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
    "WICKEDNESS ... SUCH WICKEDNESS ..."

The dying woman turned to Father Gorman with agony in her eyes, "Stopped ... It must be stopped ... You will ... "
The priest spoke with reassuring authority. "I will do what is necessary. You can trust me."
Father Gorman tucked the list of names she had given him into his shoe. It was a meaningless list: the names were of people who had nothing in common.
On his way home, Father Gorman was murdered. But the police found the list, and when Mark Easterbrook came to inquire into the circumstances of the people listed, he began to discover a connection between them, and an ominous pattern:

EVERY PERSON ON THAT LIST WAS EITHER ALREADY DEAD - OR, HE SUSPECTED, MARKED FOR MURDER!
Haiku summary
Visit the Pale Horse
Arrange for someone to die
Murder as business
(passion4reading)

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