21 July 2013

Review: THE PALE HORSE, Agatha Christie - audio book

  • First published in 1961
  • This unabridged audio edition (2007) available from Audible
  • Narrated by Hugh Fraser
  • Length 6 hrs 46 mins
Synopsis (Audible)

To understand the strange goings on at The Pale Horse Inn, Mark Easterbrook knew he had to begin at the beginning. But where exactly was the beginning?

Was it the savage blow to the back of Father Gorman's head? Or was it when the priest's assailant searched him so roughly he tore the clergyman's cassock? Or could it have been the priest's visit, just minutes before, to a woman on her death bed? Or was there a deeper significance to the violent squabble that Mark Easterbrook had himself witnessed earlier?

Wherever the beginning lies, Mark and his sidekick, Ginger Corrigan, may soon have cause to wish they'd never found it.

My Take

This novel takes the form mainly of a narrative written by Mark Easterbrook whose curiosity is peaked by a list of names found in the dead Father Gorman's shoe. Mark recognises two of the names as belonging to people who are dead and begins to suspect that most of the people on the list are either dead or are in danger of being killed. See a full plot description on Wikipedia. - SPOILERS

As Mark investigates links between The Pale Horse, formerly a pub but now a private residence, and the names on the list, he puts his associate Ginger Corrigan in real danger.

There are rather a lot of references to Shakespearean plays in this novel, in particular to the three witches of Macbeth.There are some creepy passages as Christie explores what a seance might be like and how a person might cause death through the powers of suggestion. Mark Easterbrook can't make up his mind whether he is a "believer" in the occult or not. The rational, sensible part of him says it iall poppycock, but the atmosphere of the seance he attends at The Pale Horse strikes real fear into him.

The novel not only discusses the power of suggestion in causing people to die, but also plays with the idea of the reliable (or unreliable) witness - but I won't spoil things by telling you which character it is.

There are a number of characters who appear in more than one Christie book, including the novelist Mrs Ariadne Oliver, often thought to be Agatha Christie's view of herself, although I think Mrs Oliver is much scattier.

Hugh Fraser does an excellent job of the narration.

I've read this for the
Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, it being my 53rd title.

My rating: 4.4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - There are several Christie novels and stories I think in which séances play a role. I'm not sure if Christie had a particular interest herself in them or if she had another reason for putting them in her novels, but they're certainly there. Oh, and I agree with you about Mrs. Oliver. Perhaps she was Christie's way of poking fun at herself, but she is scattier than I imagine Christie was.


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