BOOK REVIEW – A Pale Horse

by Charles Todd (Author), Simon Prebble (Narrator), Blackstone Audio, Inc.

An Audiobook Review by Jackie Houchin

A bizarre set of murders unfolds in Yorkshire after a creepily clothed corpse with a book on alchemy at his feet is found in the ruins of an abbey. There is a lot of misdirection at first which the local policeman advances due to his personal quest for revenge. Although the details of his case don’t tally, he arrests the man he hates. His wife appeals to London.

Wanting to avoid a scandal, the higher-ups of Scotland Yard task Inspector Ian Rutledge to find the true identities of the corpse and the killer and discover how and why he ended up where he was found and dressed as he was. He is also to investigate a missing person-of-interest to the British Army.

Rutledge questions many hurting people with closets full of secrets, but runs into one blank wall after another. Most of the reclusive, closed-mouthed suspects live in the nine formerly called “leper cottages” at the base of the hill featuring the outline of a huge white chalk horse. The corpse, who was possibly named Partridge, was one of those nine but no one will identify him. Which of the others, or possibly someone else, killed him, dressed him in bizarre attire and carried him to the old abbey?

Rutledge, damaged from the sights, experiences, and horrific decisions he made during the recently ended Great War, often visits the horse at night as he ponders the case and struggles with his own wartime demons. The moonlight highlights the chalky outline and stirs apocalyptic visions of his time fighting in France.

With him always is the tormenting voice of a close friend that he doomed to die on the battlefield. But strangely, at times, the voice of “Hamish” almost directs him in his inquiries.

A PALE HORSE is a complicated book with deep character studies of very flawed men and women, including foremost, the Scotland Yard Inspector. It all gets sorted at the end, and the solving of the mystery is good, but the heartaches and hurts are hard to read at times. Well written. Historically accurate. A strange mystery solved, but at what cost?

Narrator Simon Prebbie did an excellent job.



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