Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Pale Horse

The Pale Horse: Agatha Christie, December 8—13, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Agatha Christie returns to her paranormal inclinations with The Pale Horse; a shadowy inn that appears to bewitch and kill targets identified by paying clients.
Though featuring Ariadne Oliver, Rhoda Dawes and Colonel Despard of Cards on the Table, and Rev. and Mrs. Calthrop of The Moving Finger, it is newcomer Mark Easterbrook who leads the cast as primary sleuth. An amateur, he is joined by a bloated supporting cast of police officers who have very little input into the plot.
There’s quite a drag to begin with. Though the initial murder happens quite quickly, the menagerie of characters take it very slowly through the (somewhat convenient) grapevine, from Inspector Lejeune to Jim Corrigan, to Easterbook. The ‘pale horse’ phrase passes through a similarly sluggish set of Chinese whispers which leads to much repetition of previously established facts. It’s one of Christie’s flaws; over-telling where narrative overview would suffice. Though it works for Poirot’s grey cells and his particular compartmentalisation, for others it really slows things down.
As compensation, there’s some good humour, particularly from Madame Oliver but also peppered elsewhere. Of particular note is Oliver’s reluctance to participate in another fete – something that readers of Dead Man’s Folly would certainly endorse!
The conclusion to more supernaturally-leaning mysteries is always tricky: the author must decide whether to offer a completely practical, or else entirely paranormal, climax and somehow take the audience with her. Here, Christie is flawless. By the second half, and certainly the final third, there is urgency and cohesion, and the ending is perfect. Yet again, Christie shows her skill and intelligence by making seemingly unambiguous, throwaway comments entirely significant.
It’s not a perfect entry in the series, but with a little determination and patience, it’s worth enduring with.

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2015 by in 3 star, Agatha Christie Collection and tagged .

Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare