Thursday, October 3, 2013
Review of Pale Horses by Nate Southard (Snubnose Press, 2013)
Pale Horses is a country noir of the blackest kind, offset with strong bittersweet undertones. The story charts the intersections of three principal characters over the course of a murder investigation: an aging sheriff with Alzheimer’s, an unbalanced deputy with a drug habit and a Christina Ricci obsession, and a former marine haunted by his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. All three characters are very well drawn and developed as the story progresses. In particular, Hal Kendrick is a wonderfully observed character, with Southard sympathetically charting his slow decline and increasing confusion. There is a good sense of place and contextualisation concerning small town, rural America, and the plot is compelling, building to a violent but nicely done denouement. In my view, it is ready made for a movie adaptation in the vein of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (it needs an indie treatment, not a Hollywood one). Unsettling, uncompromising, dark and bittersweet, Pale Horses is a gripping read.
I've been lucky enough to read an ARC of Pale Horses and it should be published shortly.