Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > The Pale Horse

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
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really liked it
bookshelves: british-mystery, mysteries

”And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him…”

A certain Mrs. Davis dies suddenly in a boarding house. Her death is not remarkable, but the list of people’s names that she shared with a priest before dying turns out to be very interesting indeed. This list includes the names of some people who have recently died of natural causes, or was it? When the priest is found murdered, the police are confounded by how it all ties together.

Mark Easterbrook (who will be played by Rufus Sewell in the upcoming BBC adaptation of the book) finds himself drawn into this fascinating series of events. He says the writing on his book is going very well when anyone asks him, but in reality, I think he would use any excuse to escape writing further about the history of the Moguls’ way of life. If the writer is bored with the subject, how can a reader possibly find what he’s written interesting? The Moguls simply can not compete with a real live murder mystery.

There is a nice foreshadowing as he goes to the theatre with his pseudo girlfriend Hermia Redcliffe. ”One needs some really good food and drink after all the magnificent blood and gloom of Macbeth. Shakespeare always makes me ravenous.” Watching or reading Shakespeare does always produce an appetite for me as well, but what is interesting about the mention of Macbethis that, during the course of his impending investigation, he is about to meet three witches.

He hears through an unreliable source (good time girl Poppy) that, if someone wants someone done away with, she needs to see the three women at The Pale Horse Pub. Rather brazen, don’t you think? If you are in the murder for hire business, to operate under the name The Pale Horse is almost an admission of guilt. It is all poppycock anyway; you can’t use witchcraft to kill someone. Voodoo, a sect of witchcraft, if one is to believe the more sensationalized presentations. But doesn’t one have to believe in Voodoo for a Voodoo curse to work? Doesn’t one have to believe in witchcraft for it to work?

When Easterbrook meets these three women, he is certainly unnerved. As he starts to assemble the evidence, he begins to question his own beliefs and wonders if he has stumbled upon something beyond the pale of his understanding. Despite the hazards, it is either putter about with this investigation or return to the dry desert of the Moguls. He chooses to continue to poke about.

Of course, this is an Agatha Christie novel, so one must expect there will be twists and turns. No worries, she doesn’t disappoint.

She has this interesting passage about the dangers of life and our destructive tendencies towards the planet: ”In the end, perhaps, not only great natural forces, but the work of our own hands may destroy it. We are very near to that happening at the moment…” This would have special resonance with people who happened to pick this book up to read during The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The book was published in 1961 in the UK, but was published a year later in the US. Living under the threat of nuclear annihilation was all too real in 1962.

There are other nice foreshadowing elements that I won’t discuss that are actually clues to the resolution, but only become clear for me at the end. I read the bulk of this book in an afternoon, so all the evidence was freshly presented to me as I reached the conclusion. I can see the way she uses misdirection, but also plants seeds that sprout into flowers of understanding during the reveal.

Another interesting aspect of this novel is that it is considered the fifth Ariadne Oliver novel. She is a writer of mysteries who is a background character in several Hercule Poirot novels. I was unaware of the use of this recurring character, but alas, she only has a few scenes in this novel. One is a humorous discussion with Mark of the frustrations with trying to write clever mystery novels. I did want to see more of Ariadne, but unfortunately she isn’t imperative to the plot.

The movie is going to eventually be released on Amazon Prime, but I don’t have a date for when that will happen. As an Agatha Christie fan, you can choose to wait and watch the movie, or you can do as I like to do and read the book before watching the movie to analyze the plot decisions made by the writer of the screenplay compared to the original.

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Reading Progress

August 29, 2019 – Started Reading
August 29, 2019 – Shelved
August 29, 2019 – Shelved as: british-mystery
August 29, 2019 – Shelved as: mysteries
September 2, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

excellent review Jeffrey

Jeffrey Keeten ☠️JEFF [1st Russian Infantry Division] -_- wrote: "excellent review Jeffrey"

Thanks Jeff!

message 3: by TMR (new) - added it

TMR I’ve always loved Agatha Christie. So no doubt, I’ll pick this up for sure.

Jeffrey Keeten Javelyn wrote: "I’ve always loved Agatha Christie. So no doubt, I’ll pick this up for sure."

You'll like this one Javelyn!

message 5: by TMR (new) - added it

TMR Thank you.

message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark It will be a TV series on Sunday on the Beeb

Jeffrey Keeten Yep that was the impetuous for me to read the book. I’m looking forward to watching it Mark!

message 8: by Teresa (new)

Teresa There's a new adaptation of this novel starting on BBC tonight.

Jeffrey Keeten Teresa wrote: "There's a new adaptation of this novel starting on BBC tonight."

Yep, I think it is going to be great!

message 10: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Did you watch it Jeffrey? I wasn't very impressed. Far too slow and not enough happening.

message 11: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye Envoyé moi tes photos quand tu étais jeune homme et du grand Pére 🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹🚹

Jeffrey Keeten I have not seen it yet Teresa. Hopefully this week sometime.

message 13: by Forrest (new)

Forrest Never read this, but after watching the preview of the mini-series coming up on Amazon, I will definitely be watching the show!

message 14: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye Bonjour cv bn tu es nouveau👍👍👍

message 15: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye Il y avait un homme dans une photos c'est ton pére où quoi

Jeffrey Keeten Forrest wrote: "Never read this, but after watching the preview of the mini-series coming up on Amazon, I will definitely be watching the show!"

I hope you enjoy it Forrest!

message 17: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye Bonjour savais des années que je n'ais pas entré dans le groupe

Jeffrey Keeten Mass seye wrote: "Bonjour savais des années que je n'ais pas entré dans le groupe"

Christie's books are always a pleasure to read.

message 19: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye est ce que on peut parler en français

message 20: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye S'il vous plait😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Jeffrey Keeten Mass seye wrote: "est ce que on peut parler en français"

Sorry Mass seye. I unfortunately do not speak French.

message 22: by Mass seye (new) - added it

Mass seye Tu es méchant

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