A Pale Horse (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #10)

A Pale Horse (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #10)

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by Charles Todd, Simon Prebble

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Late on a spring night in 1920, five boys cross the Yorkshire dales to the ruins of Fountains Abbey, intent on raising the Devil. Instead, they stumble over the Devil himself, sitting there watching them. Terrified, they run for their lives, leaving behind a book on alchemy stolen from their schoolmaster. The next morning, a body is discovered in the cloisters of

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Late on a spring night in 1920, five boys cross the Yorkshire dales to the ruins of Fountains Abbey, intent on raising the Devil. Instead, they stumble over the Devil himself, sitting there watching them. Terrified, they run for their lives, leaving behind a book on alchemy stolen from their schoolmaster. The next morning, a body is discovered in the cloisters of the abbey—a man swathed in a hooded cloak and wearing a gas mask. Scotland Yard dispatches Inspector Rutledge to find out who the man was and why he died in such mysterious circumstances. But the villagers clearly have something to hide. And what does the huge chalk sculpture of a pale horse of the Apocalypse have to do with the crime?

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
"Ian Rutledge, the Scotland Yard man in Charles Todd's outstanding series of historical mysteries, has a wonderful capacity for compassion - a quality this shell-shocked (and guilt-ridden) World War I veteran acquired over four hellish years in the battlefields of France. That heightened sensibility comes into play in A Pale Horse, when the War Office orders Rutledge to locate an eccentric scientist who has disappeared from his secluded cottage in Berkshire."
—The New York Times
Library Journal

When Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent to a small village to look for a missing man, he has no idea that the case will become so complicated or that the people encountered will be so secretive. At the same time, an unidentified body is found in the ruins of a Yorkshire abbey, and the detective in charge of the case wants to pin the murder on the man who married his former fiancée. In his ninth outing (after A False Mirror), Rutledge uses all of his investigative prowess to piece together painstakingly what happened and how the two cases are connected. Award winner Todd, the pseudonym for a mother-and-son writing team, is brilliant at creating atmosphere and unforgettable characters. Fans of historicals by Rennie Airth and Anne Perry will snap this up. For all mystery collections.

—Jo Ann Vicarel
School Library Journal

Adult/High School -When a body is found in the ruins of an English abbey, Inspector Ian Rutledge and Hamish, the ghost of the man Rutledge executed during the Great War in France, must identify it. Rutledge would prefer to work alone, but Hamish is a persistent voice in his head. Teens with a taste for either mystery or history will enjoy the bantering between the English policeman and his ghostly Scottish tormentor as they work through the puzzle. The English countryside is beautifully drawn, as is the famous Bronze Age White Horse carved into the hills near Uffington, which gives the book its name. The dead man lived at the base of the Horse, and his neighbors have secrets they would prefer to keep. Soon new bodies join the first as the killer may be trying to finish what he started. Suspects abound-until they are murdered. When Rutledge discovers the true identity of the one in the abbey, he realizes that the British War Office may be working against him, and that the man's own family would prefer that Rutledge just go away. But the inspector is as relentless as the ghost who haunts him, and he will find his answers even if it costs him his career or his life.-Will Marston, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
World War I may be over, but the tragedies, as always in Todd's work (A False Mirror, 2007, etc.), linger on. At first it seems that the corpse might have fallen victim to cultists who left behind bits of candle wax and a book on alchemy. But Inspector Rutledge, dispatched to the Yorkshire countryside to settle matters, quickly dispels that notion before returning to Scotland Yard. When the War Office sends him back to find a missing scientist, he wonders if it's that forlorn corpse. A local copper with vengeful fantasies of his own insists that no, it's the bloke who scarred his lost love's face and was done in by her husband, the village schoolmaster. Rutledge, with niggling asides from Hamish, the ghost of the soldier he executed for desertion, has another candidate: Gaylord Partridge, who may have taken on the alias to hide from the War Department, his estranged daughters and his obscure guilt. More murder and arson follow. The village is rife with nightmares, the inevitable consequences of unspeakable behavior during the War. Secrets are everywhere and relationships shattered by war undermine nearly everyone, especially the grieving Rutledge, who must determine who's who, who killed whom and why the victims had to die. Another penetrating, emotionally lacerating antiwar fable from a master of the form. If the Washington hawks who cajole us into battle could be induced to read Todd, they might have second thoughts.

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Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Inspector Ian Rutledge Series, #10
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Pale Horse
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

Chapter One


Early April 1920

It was nearing the full moon, and the night seemed to shimmer with light.

He walked down the lane and turned to look up at the hillside.

The graceful white horse cut into the chalk by ancient Britons galloped across the green slope without stirring from its place.

He couldn't see it without remembering. That was the only reason he had chosen to live in this Godforsaken place. To torment himself until he couldn't bear it any more.

The horses had died too, in that first gas attack. It wasn't just the men. The poor beasts couldn't know what the low-lying mist wafting toward them brought in its wake.

An eyewitness had likened the cloud to a great horse moving across a barren meadow, ambling toward the barn for its dinner. Not hurrying, not drifting, just moving steadily, without apparent purpose, without apparent design, following the wind as the horse followed the scent of its stall and the fresh hay heaped in the manger. But like the pale horse of the Apocalypse, on his back rode Death. And Hell had truly followed them.

He smiled grimly at the imagery.

He hadn't been there when the Germans unleashed the chlorine attack against the Allies at Ypres. Yet it had changed his life in ways no one could have foreseen.

He wished he'd never heard the name of that medieval Belgian town. He wished the Germans had never reached it. Or that the British had left well enough alone and let them have the wretched place.

There was a silver flask of brandy in his pocket, and he feltfor it, uncapped it, lifted it to his lips, then paused.

What if he drank it to the dregs and crawled into the ruins of Wayland's Smithy to die, like a wounded animal hiding itself away until it either healed or breathed its last?

Would anyone care? A shadow was coming up the road toward him. It was Andrew Slater, the smith. It was impossible not to recognize him, even at this distance. Andrew was built like a church tower, tall and broad and solid. But the man didn't turn at the lane. He passed by without speaking, as if sleepwalking, moving on toward the Smithy. Like to like.

It would be crowded inside with the two of them there, he told himself with black humor. Not counting whatever ghosts lingered in that narrow Stone Age tomb.

I envy Andrew Slater, he thought, there in the darkness. He lives only in the present, while I have only the past.

He drank a little of the brandy, for courage, saluting the pale horse with his flask. Then he turned and trudged back to his cottage and turned up all the lamps for comfort.

A Pale Horse
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
. Copyright © by Charles Todd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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