4 May 2009

Review: A PALE HORSE, Charles Todd

BBC Audiobooks America, unabridged, ISBN 978-0-7927-5346-9, 10 CDs, 11 hours 45 mins playing time, narrator is Simon Prebble.

A small group of young lads discover the body of someone they believe to be the Devil in a hooded cloak and gas mask, in the ruins of Fountain Abbey during a clandestine visit during the night. The local school master becomes a prime suspect even though he can throw no light on who the man is. When the school master's wife appeals to her father for help, Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent to Yorkshire to find out the identity of the dead man, and why he died in such mysterious circumstances.

The story is set in 1920 against the background of the chalk horse of the Apocalypse on the Wiltshire Downs. The war is a recent memory and Rutledge is not the only one damaged by it. He is haunted by childhood memories of the chalk horse, and constantly reminded of the war by the ever present voice of Hamish MacLeod.

This really is an excellent book, full of complexities, good character development. A fascinating range of characters live in the small village of Tomlin cottages on the Downs near the chalk horse. There is a good mix of murder mystery and Rutledge's personal story too. I was impressed by what felt like authenticity in the historical details from 1920. As an audio book it works really well too, with excellent voice characterisation by Simon Prebble.

I will certainly be looking for more in this series.

My rating 4.9

From Fantastic Fiction:

Charles Todd is a pen name used by the American authors Caroline and Charles Todd. This mother-and-son writing team lives in the eastern United States, in North Carolina and Delaware, respectively. The pseudonymous mystery authors are best known for a series of novels, set in post World War I England. These intelligent and literate books deal with the cases of Inspector Ian Rutledge, a veteran of the European campaigns who is attempting to pick up the pieces of his Scotland Yard career. However, he must keep his greatest burden a secret. Suffering from shell shock, he lives with the constant cynical, taunting voice of Hamish MacLeod....

The series:
1. A Test of Wills (1996)
2. Wings of Fire (1998)
3. Search the Dark (1999)
4. Legacy of the Dead (2000)
5. Watchers of Time (2001)
6. A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
7. A Cold Treachery (2005)
8. A Long Shadow (2006)
9. A False Mirror (2007)
10. A Pale Horse (2008)
11. A Matter of Justice (2009)


Belle said...

I've got A Matter of Justice in my TBR - my first Rutledge novel, actually. I really should start it.

Anonymous said...

I have also enjoyed Mr. Prebble's reading of A Pale Horse. I would encourage anyone who finds they can enjoy audiobooks to LISTEN. He has also done A Matter of Justice, the next in the series, which is just as good.

Kerrie said...

Belle, do come back and tell me if you read and review any of his books. I'm really looking forward to tackling another.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin