Behold a Pale Horse by Peter Tremayne ~ Fiction Book Review

book13This is the story of a book that I never would have chosen for myself. A story that begins in my local bookstore, an overstock and remainder shop where you can get new books at a fantastic price. The only problem is that your options are a bit limited, but if you’re up for trying something new, this is a great place to be. The shop owner and I were discussing our reading preferences.

Me: “Mysteries are my favorites, but it’s been a long time since I actually chose a book from the mystery section. I really like the unconventional mysteries I find in the mainstream fiction section, especially those by foreign authors.”

Her: “Like who?”

Me: “Like Tana French.”

Her: “I haven’t heard of her. Where’s she from?”

Me: “She’s Irish.”

Her eyes opened wide and she said, “Oh! I have the perfect author for you. He’s Irish and he writes the best mysteries!”

I was sold. I went home with a copy of “Behold a Pale Horse” by Peter Tremayne knowing only the genre and the author’s country of origin. The first chance I got I opened the book and dove right in. Well. Surprise # 1 was that the book is #22 of a series. Surprise # 2 was that the series takes place in ancient Ireland. This particular novel follows Sister Fidelma, the mystery solving lawyer/religieuse/princess in Northern Italy in the year 664 AD.

Mind blown.

It took me much longer than usual to get through this book. I had to get over #1, my prejudices about the book, #2, the history lesson I was gaining from reading the book, and #3, several small hissy fits that I threw upon having to read something outside of my comfort zone. But after I readjusted my attitude and approached the book as an adventure, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the story. I don’t have the urge to conquer the entire series, but I would spend some more time with Fidelma. Just not any time too soon. My personal rating is a 4, but if an accurate historical piece rich in learning opportunities and mystery is your thing, I’d say this might be a five.

The Secret Place by Tana French

bookI love Irish author Tana French. Her prose is like poetry which she uses to bewitch you while she takes you on a crazy ride over the course of the pages. When I read fiction, I want it to punch me in the gut, to leave me breathless, to be so good that I have to pry the book out of my own hand to put it down and get some work done. French never disappoints.

French usually includes a bit of the supernatural in her books, which made me uncomfortable at first. What – my forensic mystery isn’t all cut and dry? Using your imagination is required to fully understand the aspects of the case – gasp! Now I find that I enjoy that little extra edge. It makes you think all the more, it adds extra layers to the plot, it makes the story more of an experience than your average journey in reading.

I can’t recommend French’s books enough. If you haven’t read her before, I would suggest starting at the beginning, with In the Woods and reading your way through to her most recent. Have you read any of her books before? Let me know what you think. Do you know of any authors with similar styles – I’m always looking, please let me know!

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