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October's Book of the Month - The Pale Horse

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom admin

When an elderly priest is murdered, the killer searches the victim so roughly that his already ragged cassock is torn in the process. What was the killer looking for? And what had a dying woman confided to the priest on her death bed only hours earlier?

Mark Easterbrook and his sidekick Ginger Corrigan are determined to find out. Maybe the three women who run The Pale Horse public house, and who are rumoured to practice the ‘Dark Arts’, can provide some answers?

This month we delve into one of Agatha Christie’s darkest stories, The Pale Horse. The story, published in the UK in 1961, reflects a supernatural tone which is only really evident in a few of Christie’s novels. In The Pale Horse three “witches” claim to possess the power to curse people to death, but as the plot thickens it appears that all is not as it seems.

When Agatha Christie wrote this story she had in her mind a man that she had met almost fifty years earlier. The man in question was pharmacist Mr P who instructed Christie in the preparation and dispensing of drugs during the First World War. Leave your thoughts and questions about The Pale Horse here.
Any questions? Please email [email protected]


  • CrookedQuinCrookedQuin California, United States ✭✭✭
    This is one of my favorite Agatha Christie solutions! It is clever, intelligent, impeccably clued and the way the crime was committed was near perfection, it was intriguing. This is definitely in my top twenty five of her stories. 
  • I remember on another forum every October, close to Halloween, I would host a book club and we would usually read Halloween Party but I never thought of reading The Pale horse which is a great read in October. Anyways, I noticed when Agatha Christie got older her books got darker and I don't know if one element had to do with the 60's atmosphere or not. One thing I can say about Christie, she wasn't afraid to move with the times regardless of the changes that ensued. One of the things about The Pale Horse I can remember is the opening scene, specifically with the opening line which reads, "The espresso machine behind my shoulder hissed like an angry snake." What a great way to compare the sound of an espresso machine! I can still remember the scene with the 2 young women going at it and each trying to pull on each other's hair, only to have one of their hair beginning to easily fall out. Very memorable scene and even after many, many years of reading the book it still stands out. Christie had a way of creating a scene and making it unforgettable. 

    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States mod
    Having worked at a coffee bar for ten summers, I can definitely say that espresso machines do sound like hissing snakes.  At least the hissing snakes I've seen in movies.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭✭
    Pale Horse Grew on me, It is a nice Crossover, I initially found 2 Chapters that deal with the Supernatural most the hardest but It is not a bad book, It isn't a Favourite, It isn't in my fop 20 and I wouldn't take it to a Desert Island but it is still on my Reading list
  • EtlevaEtleva Albania Investigator
    edited October 2016
    I've just finished the Pale Horse. It had a great start and a nice plot. The setting of the happenings was great.
  • What's so memorable about The Pale Horse is the reuse of characters that Agatha Christie brings from her other books. We have Ariadne Oliver (who appeared in a handful of Poirot books already), Colonel Despard and Rhoda Despard (Dawes) who are now married, and Rev. & Mrs. Dane Calthrop from The Moving Finger. I can't think of another non-series book from Christie that uses characters from other books. She must have had a lot of fun doing this. And Mrs. Lancaster who appears in the Tommy & Tuppence book By The Pricking Of My Thumbs is alluded to as well. 

    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • PetePete UK Investigator
    Of her later works,I think this is an excellent book -creepy,but not too creepy -just deliciously creepy!
    "You didn't complain or say it was my fault. It was at that moment I began to think you were wonderful."
  • AnnikaAnnika United States of America Investigator
    The first time I read The Pale Horse I was a little thrown because it had much more of a supernatural element than I was used to in Christie. I have reread it multiple times and it has really grown on me. I usually end up rereading it in the fall.
    Blogger at The Season Ahead
    "You'll turn out ordinary if you're not careful." - Ann Brashares
  • I love this book, and I also really liked the 1997 movie. Jean Marsh as Thyrza Grey was incredible! While I didn't like all of the changes from the book, some of them were really good (e.g. the bigger part for Hermione).
  • About the 1997 film that Taliavishay-Arbel pointed out, one thing I liked about the film was the 1960's setting and you rarely see her books adapted into the 60's, usually they are set in the 30's so it was very refreshing.

    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
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