Pale Horses by Nate Southard – review

July 31, 2013
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PaleHorsesSheriff Hal Kendrick is losing his shit.

His brain is gradually disintegrating from Alzheimer’s and he’s keeping it on the DL, the secret staying between him, his wife Sara and his doctor.  He just wants to do some good in meth-riddled Folk County, Indiana before he retires, and solving Colleen Lothridge’s murder would be just the case to go out on.

Deputy Danny Cole needs to cover his tracks.

He’s been selling meth with the help of a local cook he went to high school with and, well, things got out of hand one night with good-time gal Colleen.  Now he’s hoping to keep his business operating and pin the murder on town crazy Korey Hunt.

Korey Hunt wants to get better.

Ever since coming home following stints in Iraq and Afghanistan to live with his mom he seems to be unable to stop drinking and getting into vicious bar fights.  He’s been going to group therapy with other men who served but most days are a success only in that he didn’t make a break for his weapons stash in the woods.  Though he blacks out on occasion he knows it wasn’t him who caved in Colleen’s skull.

Nate Southard’s Pale Horses is fucking phenomenal.

It brings us into the heads of these three struggling, damaged men and holds our attention effortlessly, the tension of waiting for each man to inevitably crumble making the pages fly by.  And when things finally do go to shit, they go to shit.  Pale Horses manages to be human without an ounce of sentimentality and badass without ever leaving you feeling like said badassery is unearned or forced.

This is the kind of discovery the Nerd hopes to make every time he picks up a crime novel, something that makes me feel deeply and consistently surprises me, leaving me in the end emotionally wrecked yet exhilarated.  If you don’t snatch up Pale Horses you’re missing out on one of the best books of 2013.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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