First published in 1961, The Pale Horse is a story taking place in the misty arena of supernatural forces. Every so often, we hear a very convincing story of appearances of spirits/ghosts and their supernatural powers. The innermost desire of every human being of attaining immortality finds it’s way out in the belief that there is a life beyond this one and we are going to be much more powerful in that life.
I looked and there before me was a pale horse!
Its rider was named Death, and Hell was following close behind him.
|The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
|Harper (2002); HarperCollins (2011), and other editions…
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The rider of the pale horse, aka, Death is what opens the story. In the small parish of somewhere, Mrs Davis is dying. But, she would not leave this life without a last confession to Father Gorman. A confession so thought provoking that Father Gorman will sit inside a cafe and make a list of names, so that the lapse of time will not erase the details of that last confession from his mind. However, before he can act on the information he has received a blow on the head on his way back through the fog takes Father Gorman to the other world and out of action here. The list is discovered by the police, but it comprises of just a few names that does not seem to make any sense. The investigation of Father Gorman’s murder seems to be getting nowhere apart from an eye-witness called Mr. Zachariah Osbourne who comes up with a very detailed and accurate description of the murderer. Almost too good to be true!!!
Away from the death is Mark Easterbrook, young and happy in his academic career. By pure chance, he witnesses a fight between two girls in a coffee bar in Chelsea, when one is pulling the other’s hair out, the victim being rich and famous Thomasina Tuckerton. She dies soon afterwards. On an evening out with friends, he meets Poppy, who very innocently suggests that there is an organization called “The Pale Horse” that can arrange death. But, she wouldn’t say anything more and Mark and others don’t take it seriously enough to think any more of it.
Mark is friends with Corrigan who is involved in the investigation of Father Gorman’s murder case. He looks at the list and notices the names of his godmother who recently died and that of Thomasina Tuckerton. He slowly makes the connection that everyone on that list had recently died, but in all cases the death appeared natural and someone invariably benefited from the death.
Mark’s friend and famous mystery writer, Ariadne Oliver agrees to go to a fete organised by mark’s cousin in the village of Much Deeping. It is during this visit that Mark learns about an old inn called the Pale Horse, which is now a residence of three witches. One of the witches- Thyrza Grey- boasts about their powers and ability to harm people, near or far…. To Mark, the whole thing appears like a “sales-talk”. He also meets rich and formidable Mr. Venables who is wheelchair bound.
Mark is inexplicably afraid and wants to investigate this matter, but his steady friend Hermia does not want to be a part of it. Instead, Mark finds an invaluable ally in Ginger Corrigan, whom he met at the fete. It is Ginger who finally gets information out of Poppy about the Pale Horse. Accordingly Mark goes to meet Mr. Bradley, a dark sheep of a lawyer, who arranges to take a bid for death of Mark’s imaginary wife. Ginger plays the wife living in an isolated apartment. Mark has the police involved in the matter and everything is being done to ensure that no harm will come to Ginger.
But, all is not well with Ginger. She does fall gravely ill in that safe apartment under everyone’s watch and is almost about to die. Can Mark take her death on his conscience? What is causing the illness and eventually the death of the victims? Is it really power of the witches or is it an old-fashioned cold blooded criminal on loose? And what has all this to do with Mrs. Davis or Father Gorman? For the answers you must read yet another gripping tale from the mistress of crime (or better known as queen of crime fictions)………… And here is the consolidated list of main characters for you to do some mental exercise to solve the crime 🙂
- Mark Easterbrook (A historian)
- Inspector Lejeune (The investigating officer)
- Ariadne Oliver (The celebrated author)
- Jim Corrigan (The police surgeon)
- Ginger Corrigan (A young woman)
- Mr. Venables (A wealthy man)
- Zachariah Osbourne (A pharmacist)
- Mr Bradley (Legal representative of The Pale Horse)
- Thyrza Grey (A practitioner of the Dark Arts)
- Sybil Stamfordis (A medium)
- Bella Webb (Thyrza Grey’s cook)
- Thomasina Tuckerton (A wealthy young woman)
- Rhoda Despard (Mark Easterbrook’s cousin)
- Colonel Hugh Despard (Rhoda’s husband)
- Mrs Tuckerton (Thomasina’s stepmother)
- Mrs Coppins (Boarding house Owner)
- Pamela “Poppy” Stirling (An employee of Flower Studies Ltd.)
- Eileen Brandon (A former employee of Customers’ Reactions Classified)
- Hermia Redcliffe (Mark’s girlfriend)
- David Ardingley (Mark’s friend)
- Rev Dane Calthrop (The local vicar)
- Mrs Dane Calthrop (The vicar’s wife)
- Father Gorman (a Roman Catholic priest)
Dust jacket cover page image curtsey: Wikipedia
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