Pale Horse Coming Paperback – 26 Nov 2002
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"Visceral and raw." -- "The Washington Post Book World"
"Stephen Hunter has done for the rifle what Tom Clancy did for the nuclear submarine....Score it a bull's-eye." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Visceral and raw." -- The Washington Post Book World
"If you want thrills, you needn't seek further." -- Rocky Mountain News (Denver) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Earl Swagger is back in a searing follow-up to the bestselling Hot Springs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
"Behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." Author Stephen Hunter must have thought the passage way cool because he milks it for all it's worth.
Earl Swagger, the novel's hero, is a sergeant in the Arkansas state police and a Marine veteran of the Pacific war against the Japanese. It's now 1961, and Earl takes time off from his day job to investigate the disappearance of a lawyer pal who's traveled on legal business to the Thebes State Penal Farm (Colored), a Mississippi prison for Negroes cut-off from the rest of the world in the swamps of the state's southeast corner. What Swagger discovers is a hell-hole of officially sanctioned viciousness that makes Stalin's gulags seem tame by comparison. As a meddling outsider, Earl is detained there himself and almost loses his life and sanity. After finally escaping, he returns to exact righteous vengeance.
The first half of PALE HORSE COMING is perhaps its best. It's the survival story of Earl amidst the horrors of Thebes, not the least of which is the psychopathic overseer, the albino Bigboy, who enjoys torturing prisoners to death with a bullwhip. To enhance the dramatic effect of Swagger's fight for his life, the Thebes facility is perhaps overembellished. Wrought in iron over its main gate are the words, "Work Will Set You Free." Haven't we seen that before, as in "Arbeit Macht Frei", associated with other camps of infamy? Somehow.
The book's second half strains credulity. The author apparently has a love of the Old West as he has Earl returning to Thebes with a posse of retired gunslingers - one of whom is in his eighties - to expunge the place from the map. Swagger includes in his trigger-happy band a character named Audie Ryan, America's most decorated WWII soldier and now a movie star, who's obviously modeled on the real-life Audie Murphy. Oh, puhleeze! And it doesn't help that the U.S. government is involved with Thebes in the obligatory Sinister Secret Project - your tax dollars at work.
Had I thought that Hunter wrote the ending tongue-in-cheek as a parody, I might have been more forgiving. However, I suspect he was serious, and the result is too clever by half. As it is, I'm awarding four stars because it remains a gripping and entertaining read. And that's why I spend good money for a cheap thriller, right?
In the film PALE RIDER, which reworks the earlier SHANE with a stronger "Death rides a pale horse" theme, Clint Eastwood's Man-With-No-Name character wipes out the Bad Guys all by himself. For me, the Lone Hero has always held more appeal.
Its one of the most exciting, terrifying thrillers ive read in a good few years - at some parts my heart was literally racing, not knowing what would happen next. I wont bother with a long review so just do yourself a big favour and buy it!
Attorney Sam Vincent travels to Thebes to meet a client, but is illegally detained by the law enforcement officials running the facility. Earl Swagger knows Sam is inside Thebes and sets out to free his friend. Earl frees Sam, but is caught instead. Big Boy, who runs the prison, periodically tortures Earl, who with a bit of luck escapes vowing to return to burn this little corner of hell to the ground.
PALE HORSE COMING is a juicy thriller that shows how little freedom blacks had in the 1951 south. The novel shocks, excites, and enthralls the audience. The plot serves as a testament to the unknown heroes fighting injustice to make things right for everyone. Stephen Hunter is a fantastic writer who knows how to entertain and educate his fans.
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