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Pale Horse Paperback – Nov 21 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: UK General Books; Masterpiece ed edition (Nov. 21 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007151659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007151653
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 118 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #265,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Father Gorman attends to one of his parishioners who, with her dying breath, asks for forgiveness and gives him a list of names with a wish that the evil be "Stopped ... it must be stopped ... You will see?" When Father Gorman was found murdered later that night, the police suspect that the murderer failed to find the crumpled list of names stuffed in Gorman's shoe and that the list was likely the reason he had been murdered. This list of names and a series of serendipitous events, happenstance conversations and fortuitous meetings put Mark Easterbrook, Dame Agatha Christie's ever-present amateur sleuth, onto the trail of a gang of ruthless murders for hire. But Easterbrook is terrified to discover that the murders seem to be committed by a coven of three odd witches dispatching their victims for a fee with a malevolent brew of witchcraft, psychic arts, black magic and the mere power of suggestion.

"The Pale Horse" retains many of the characteristics of Agatha Christie's earliest cozy mysteries - country fêtes and bazaars, afternoon tea, parish vicars and their long-suffering wives and the obligatory parlour room confrontation with the suspects. Agatha Christie even allows herself a cameo appearance in the novel in the person of twittering author Ariadne Oliver. But "The Pale Horse" also has a much more modern flavour as an aging Dame Christie brings her craft into London of the early sixties - Soho, Chelsea coffee bars, discussions of avant garde productions of Shakespearean plays in ways the bard would never have imagined, a more graphic approach to violence and brutality and a somewhat grudging if critical acceptance of the popular culture of London's younger people.

But the ending, whether you think of it as vintage mystery or new age police procedural, is classic Agatha Christie - a beautiful blind-side twist that no reader will see coming until it's right on top of you!

Highly recommended and thoroughly entertaining!

Paul Weiss
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This 1961 novel is not a part of any of Christie's more famous series (Poirot, Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence) but does include some "old friends" from other books: the Dane Calthrops (THE MOVING FINGER), Rhoda and Major Despard (THE CARD ON THE TABLE) and Ariadne Oliver, the famous mystery writer who has appeared in several Poirot stories. The PALE HORSE is one of the novels that is as much romance and mystery.
The story is told by Mark Easterbrook, a writer who had taken up residence in the Chelsea district of London while working on his latest book on Mogul culture. He stopped into a coffee shop for a quick meal and witnessed an argument between two young women that ended with one pulling out a handful of hair from the other. The unfortunate woman's unusual name - Thomasina Tuckerton - stuck with Easterbrook. He was surprised when he saw it a week later, in the obituaries.
Easterbrook went on about his life, meeting with his friend, Ariadne Oliver, traveling to the country to visit his cousin, and going out with his long-time girlfriend Hermia Redcliffe. Meanwhile the police begin to investigate the murder of a priest who was killed on his way home from hearing a last confession. They found a list of names stuffed into the priest's shoe, including the name of the police inspector. The two threads of the story meet and continue to weave throughout London, out to the country, on to Birmingham and returning to London. On the way the path leads to witchcraft, deathrays, and murder for hire.
The mystery here appears to be more a how-it-was-done than a who- done-it although Christie has once again lead us down the garden path to a surprise finish.
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By Lisa on Jan. 14 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a Christie fan for over two years, since I was twelve, and I found this to be a nice little diversion from Hercule Poirot's little gray cells and Miss Marple's village parallels. I must say that though I was able to guess the mastermind behind it all, I was not able to guess the method. This is easily one of Dame Agatha's most original plots (including THE MOVING FINGER, also featuring the Dane Calthrops), a story of two young people, who, in setting out to identify the murderer of a well-liked Catholic priest who learned something from a dying woman, find much more than they bargained for...and each other. I wonder why it's never been made into a movie??... ;-)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nothing is more stupid, unanimous, superstitious, and pointless, than the universal habit of running down Agatha Christie as a writer. Even fellow crime writers who ought to acknowledge their debt to one of the absolute masters of the genre, are in the habit, when looking for any kind of literary respectability, to start by pooh-poohing her (thus Ruth Rendell, P.D.James, et caetera).
In point of fact, whatever a great writer is, Agatha Christie was one. Some of her stories are forgettable, many formulaic: but she has written at least a dozen, probably more, that count as classics of the language. The fact is that her kind of excellence runs absolutely counter to modern concerns. She can write stylish prose if she really wants to; she can create vivid and fascinating characters if she really wants to; but most of the time she is not too concerned with either of these things. Her characters are simple and reducible to a few primary types - like those of Homer. Her plots are what she really lavishes attention on (this book has a wonderful vignette of an author singularly like Dame Agatha herself, cudgelling her brains in despair to make some sense of a character's silly but necessary actions), and they are superlative. Properly read, they both express human values and generate great emotion; her denouements are never purely revelations of past events, but always insights into the minds of murderers, accomplices, and victims, into the logic of their situations, into the pressures that drive human beings. It has been said that her stories exist only for the sake of the denouement; if this is true at all, it is meaningless, since denouements do not exist by themselves but are a function of everything that has gone on before, and only work if the whole work has been carefully crafted.
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