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A Pale Horse by Charles Todd

A Pale Horse

by Charles Todd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (10)

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It's the 1920s and Inspector Ian Rutledge is assigned to find a man who is missing and the War Office wants to know where he is. He turns up dead and as Rutledge investigates he finds that the man's two daughters hated him and blame their mother's suicide on him. Then in the small neighborhood where he lived, all of the neighbors are very secretive and reluctant to get involved. And the War Office seems to be hiding something too. Rutledge is very persistent in finding out the truth.

This was a solid police procedural with Rutledge as an admirable and smart detective. He's also a sympathetic character as he is tormented by decisions he made during the war. At times, I thought the story dragged in places but overall it kept me interested. ( )
  gaylebutz | Nov 18, 2015 |
Title: A Pale Horse (Inspector Ian Rutledge #10)
Author: Charles Todd
Pages: 360
Year: 2008
Publisher: William Morrow
Inspector Ian Rutledge barely has time to breathe between cases that his superior sends him out to solve. Secretly, his boss hates Ian and is hoping he fails; then, he’ll have proof to have him removed from the force. However, Ian isn’t cooperating and keeps coming up stellar with his sleuthing abilities.
This current case takes Ian back to a place he visited as a young boy with his father. There is a giant pale horse carved in a hillside by long ago peoples. Ian remembers fondly the time spent here with his father, but now he is sent to track down a missing scientist by order of the military. This, after he just returned from investigating the finding of an unknown corpse in a church abbey, wearing an opera cloak and a gas mask. No one has seen the dead man before and the local constable likes the school teacher for the murder, pursuing a personal vendetta against the school teacher. Ian is able to clear the school teacher, but still needs to identify the body before burial. Before he can accomplish this, he is sent on his quest to watch for the reappearance of this scientist. The scientist lives in a set-apart area just below the pale horse in one of nine small cottages. Each cottage is occupied by a person who wants to be left alone with their secrets. Ian finds help with the blacksmith, but all the other cottage dwellers are terse with him. No one seems to want to identify the body in his other case either.
Then, a cottager is found murdered soon followed by another. Ian finally is able to link his two cases together, but still must find out who killed the man found in the abbey and who is killing off the cottagers one by one. Ian patiently waits sometimes and sometimes purposely plants seeds of doubt when talking to suspects or potential witnesses. All the while he is drawn to the pale horse and remembers his past. Unfortunately, that past includes his time in France during WWI. He still is transported at times back to the battlefield whether in nightmares or while awake. His horror, grief, anger, shame and guilt are his constant companions in the voice of Hamish MacLeod, a corporal under Ian’s command during the war who Ian had executed. Can he ever be rid of Hamish? Can he discover the killer’s identity and proof before the killer strikes again?
This story was slow in some parts, but the psychological aspects of Ian and how he deals with his guilt among other emotions and how he interacts with others while trying to ferret out information is interesting to read and kept me tuned in to the story. The ability to perform his job while still carrying around so much anguish is remarkable. The depictions and descriptions by the authors about WWI bring it alive on the pages of the story. I’ll be reading book eleven in the series soon and am very interested to see what case Ian will be investigating next.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/. Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457 ( )
1 vote lcjohnson1988 | Oct 27, 2014 |
A body with no identity, a missing person. This seemed a no-brainer to me. I know they had fingerprinting in the 1920s, or at least I'm pretty sure they did. I think that is one reason why I'm dissatisfied with the whole story; Inspector Rutledge behaved more as an amateur than as a Scotland Yard professional. Another reason was the dialogue. People went from calm to boiling with no reason whatsoever. There was no intelligence, cleverness or humor in the conversations. Mostly vagueness. It was tiring.

Aside from that, or in spite of it, I still found this a decent read. The setting and Inspector Rutledge himself have much promise. It is the sort of mystery I can easily read, but won't ever reread. ( )
  MrsLee | Feb 8, 2014 |
It's now 1920, and Inspector Ian Rutledge continues to deal with the aftermath of World War I or The Great War as it was then known. [book: A Pale Horse] finds him traveling about England from London to Berkshire to Yorkshire and back again as he seeks to solve the disappearance of a man in whom the Army is taking an interest. Red herrings and suspects proliferate as everyone has something to hide. Rutledge's personal life has its trials as well, particularly the continued presence of Hamish McLeod, a soldier Rutledge was forced to order executed during the war. Is Hamish just inside Rutledge's head, or a "real" ghost? Todd (actually a mother and son) continues to tantalize us with the reappearance of the psychic Meredith Channing -- my guess is that she and Rutledge will become more than friends at some point.
I enjoyed this book, and will keep reading new Charles Todd novels as they come out, but for some reason this one disappointed me a bit. Rutledge seemed to be floundering more than usual in his efforts to solve the mysteries. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
This one is kind of tiresome. Rutledge merely drives around, and around, and around, to repeated five-minute conversations - largely fruitless and pointless - with witnesses and suspects.

However, there are some good moments, as when "Hamish had read his mind."

" 'Kill us both, and he'll go free,' Hamish reminded him."

"He and Hamish saw her at the same time."

"Chief Superintendent Bowles lived by the philosophy, rock everyone's boat but mine." ( )
  jzdro | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Toddprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gnade, UschiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Martha Lynn, Whose voice is her gift, As words are mine . . . With much love for so many reasons. T.
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It was nearing the full moon, and the night seemed to shimmer with light.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061233560, Hardcover)

In the ruins of Yorkshire's Fountains Abbey lies the body of a man wrapped in a cloak, the face covered by a gas mask. Next to him is a book on alchemy, which belongs to the schoolmaster, a conscientious objector in the Great War. Who is this man, and is the investigation into his death being manipulated by a thirst for revenge?

Meanwhile, the British War Office is searching for a missing man of their own, someone whose war work was so secret that even Rutledge isn't told his real name or what he did.

The search takes Rutledge to Berkshire, where cottages once built to house lepers stand in the shadow of a great white horse cut into the chalk hillside. The current inhabitants of the cottages are outcasts, too, hiding from their own pasts. Who among them is telling the truth about their neighbors and who is twisting it?

Here is a puzzle requiring all of Rutledge's daring and skill, for there are layers of lies and deception, while a ruthless killer is determined to hold on to freedom at any cost. And the pale horse looming overhead serves as a reminder that death is never finished with anyone, least of all the men who fought in the trenches of France.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Late on a spring night in 1920, five boys cross the Yorkshire dales to the ruins of Fountains Abbey, intent on raising the Devil. Instead, they stumble over the Devil himself, sitting there watching them. Terrified, they run for their lives, leaving behind a book on alchemy stolen from their schoolmaster. The next morning, a body is discovered in the cloisters of the abbey - a man swathed in a hooded cloak and wearing a gas mask. There are no clues other than the left-behind book. In an effort to uncover the dead man's identity, one of the police constables sketches a likeness to send to other police stations. It turns out there's a strong chance the man worked for the British government. Scotland Yard dispatches Inspector Rutledge to confirm the ID and to find out why the man died in such mysterious circumstances. Rutledge begins his investigation, dealing with villagers who clearly have something to hide and trying to decipher if the death links back to the Great War. And what does the huge chalk sculpture of a pale horse of the Apocalypse have to do with the crime?… (more)

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