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Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

Pale Horse (original 1961; edition 1969)

by Agatha Christie

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1,959415,362 (3.62)107
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)
Title:Pale Horse
Authors:Agatha Christie
Info:Fontana (1969), Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (1961)

  1. 30
    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 (37)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
A series of coincidences centred on the Pale Horse in Much Deeping convince the historian Mark Easterbrook that a sinister organisation has achieved the seemingly impossible: to kill people by occult means. Together with his friend Ginger Corrigan and Detective Inspector Lejeune he is determined to stop the criminals and to bring them to justice.

I first read this novel years ago and, to be honest, I couldn't remember much of the plot, but the overall atmosphere had impressed itself on me. It seems such a departure from Agatha Christie's usual fare of murder mysteries, but it is exceedingly well executed. In a way I feel that with this novel the author was able to explore the mindset of someone living in Britain at the time the novel was written (1960/1961): despite the rapid advance of science (for example, radiation, computers, antibiotics, things which would have been unthinkable even a generation before) in everyday life, the old beliefs and superstitions are still very much in evidence, even if they've been channelled into the subconscious. Mrs Dane Calthrop rather illuminatingly I think here represents the author's opinion: 'My father said that airships were nonsense, and my great-grandfather probably said that railway trains were nonsense. They were both quite right. At that time they both were impossible. But they're not impossible now' (p. 92) and 'Something works. That's what we've got to face. A lot of it, most of it, I think, is trappings. It's just to create atmosphere—atmosphere is important. But concealed amongst the trappings, there must be the real thing—the thing that does work' (p. 223).

The murders at the heart of the story are cleverly done and have a rather sinister edge to it, and Agatha Christie once more tries to direct the reader's anticipation of the murderer in certain established ways. ( )
  passion4reading | Sep 8, 2019 |
The Pale Horse (1961) by Agatha Christie. Murder by witchcraft. The dead die a natural death, but only after the witches do their magic. And what jury would convict the three culprits and admit to the world that they, the jury, believe in such things.
As for the police, if you brought them a tale of magic, seances, a cockerel’s fresh blood dripped into a fiery caldron, and subsequent death, you would hopefully only be warned off for wasting their time.
Where is the proof, the evidence, the witnesses? The objects of the spells have never come in contact with the spell casters, there is no link at all between the two parties, yet the victims die and the witches claim they are the cause.
This is the problem presented in The Pale Horse, which is also the name of the former tavern the witches inhabit. And this is the problem faced by the police when a London priest is killed. In his shoe is a list of names which soon appear to be a group of individuals, totally unrelated to each other in any manner, who’ve died in the past year.
Mark Easterbrook is an author who is currently stymied in his writing. On a whim he sets off from his digs in Chelsea and settles into a small coffee shop. There he witnesses a girl-fight. Later he is talking to the owner of the cafe and discovers a little more about the girls involved, including their names. A few days later he reads the obituary of one of the girls.
This is an ingenious murder-for-hire scheme that can not possibly be happening. This is also a springboard for Dame Agatha to voice her own opinions, through her characters, of the life of a writer in the 1960’s when so many things were changing rapidly. At a guess, her Ariadne Oliver character, now in her fifth outing, is an outlet for many of the author’s feelings.
No matter, The Pale Horse is quite the puzzler that will lead you down a merry path. ( )
  TomDonaghey | Jun 6, 2019 |
This is one of Christie's stand alone stories - so it isn't Hercule Poriot or Jane Marple. A man, Mark Easterbrook, happens on a murder for hire organization. A Catholic priest visits a dying woman who apparently knew something about the organization. She died and then he was killed on his way home carrying a list of people, all of whom have died. If you want someone to die sooner rather than later, you go to a disbarred lawyer who makes a bet with you. He bets this person will die sooner than you think and you bet the opposite. You then go to a séance at a neighbor's home. One of the women involved makes a big deal out of believing she could wish people dead. He and a girlfriend, Ginger, after talking to the police, set her up as a victim. She starts to get sick and they can't figure out how it is being done. Easterbrook figures it out before it is too late.
  taurus27 | Feb 20, 2019 |
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 | Oct 30, 2018 |
Nice and creepy. As usual, Christie had me fooled right until the end. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nuuttila, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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John and Helen Mildmay White
with many thanks for the opportunity
given me to see justice done
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There are two methods, it seems to me, of approaching this strange business of the Pale Horse.
Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who will never be important, because he’ll always be less than a man.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description

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:

Haiku summary
Visit the Pale Horse
Arrange for someone to die
Murder as business

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