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Before the Poison [Paperback]

Peter Robinson
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 5 2012
From bestselling author Peter Robinson comes this atmospheric, suspenseful, and thrilling standalone novel

Through the years of success in Hollywood composing film scores, Chris always promised his wife they'd return to the Yorkshire Dales one day. Now a widower, Chris feels he must not forget his promise. Back in the Dales, he rents an isolated house that will allow him the space to grieve and the peace to compose his piano sonata. But when he finds that the house was the scene of a murder in the 1950s, and the convicted murderer was one of the last women hanged in England, he finds himself increasingly distracted by the events of sixty years before . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

Product Description


Praise for Peter Robinson:

"Robinson, actually seems to grow in front of our eyes, delivering books of greater complexity each time." 
— Otto Penzler

"Robinson is incapable of writing a dull sentence." 
— People Magazine

"Robinson quietly and methodically stretches the boundries of crime fiction." 
— National Post

"Robinson, of course, is among the upper elite of crime writers...."
— Hamilton Spectator

From the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Chris Lowndes built a comfortable career composing scores for films in Hollywood. But after twenty-five years abroad, and still quietly reeling from the death of his beloved wife, he decides to return to the Yorkshire dales of his youth. To ease the move, he buys Kilnsgate House, a rambling old mansion deep in the country.

Although Chris finds Kilnsgate charming, something about the house disturbs him, a vague sensation that the long-empty rooms have been waiting for him—feelings made ever stronger when he learns that the house was the scene of a murder more than fifty years before. The former owner, a prominent doctor named Ernest Arthur Fox, was supposedly poisoned by his beautiful and much younger wife, Grace. Arrested and brought to trial, Grace was found guilty and hanged for the crime.

His curiosity piqued, Chris talks to the locals and searches through archives for information about the case. But the more he discovers, the more convinced he becomes that Grace may have been innocent. Ignoring warnings to leave it alone, he sets out to discover what really happened over half a century ago—a quest that takes him deep into the past and into a web of secrets that lie all too close to the present.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change from Banks Oct. 11 2011
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Peter Robinson has long been one of my favourite authors and I pick up anything with his name on it, knowing I'll be in for a good read. His latest book Before the Poison, is not part of his series featuring Inspector Banks, but is instead, a stand alone work.

Chris Lowndes left England when he was younger for the United States. He made quite a name for himself as a movie score composer. When his wife dies, Chris decides it's time to return home to England. He and Laura had planned to retire there. He buys an isolated house, sight unseen. When he arrives at the home, he is curious about the former inhabitants of the house. When he finds that it was the site of the murder of local physician, Dr. Fox and that his wife Grace was hanged for that murder, Chris indulges his curiosity and begins looking further into the trial. Curiosity quickly turns into almost obsession as he begins to doubt the official version of what really happened.

" I had a curious sensation that the shy, half-hidden house was waiting for me, that it had been waiting for some time."

This was a very different read from the Banks books. The pacing is much slower, taking time to build the layers of the story slowly and carefully. We follow Chris as he becomes increasingly insistent on discovering more about Grace. The story is told from three sources - Chris's inquiries, excerpts from a book called Famous Trials and finally bits from Grace's own journal, kept during her wartime nursing years. I found the journal entries especially poignant and extremely well written.

Much time is spent on developing the characters, their reasoning and their emotions. And this absolutely works for this story - anything faster would have ruined the atmospheric, period piece tone and feel of the tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable July 13 2012
Robinson is a mediocre writer, but his Inspector Banks books are usually entertaining, and the Yorkshire setting is interesting. But this book is awful. The writing is cliched and pedestrian, and the main character is a bore. I plodded on for about 100 pages, but that was more than enough to tell me it was a waste of time.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadn't bothered... Dec 2 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This stilted novel is at one with it's stilted narrator. What a waste of time! I really don't know what Robinson was trying to achieve with this claptrap effort. I usually enjoy his fiction but this novel has actually changed my view of him as a writer. I don't think I will bother reading anything else by him for a very long time. Save your money and your time: avoid this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing March 7 2013
By simba
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Disappointing for a Peter Robinson book, I found the main character weak and lacking in credibility, the whole story seemed somehow contrived. I have read every book by this author and would therefore consider myself a fan, but I did not enjoy this one.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Peter Robinson's best work Jan. 27 2013
By Compost
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Peter Robinson's books, especially his Inspector Banks books. This book was mediocre and I did not enjoy it very much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another fabulous book Jan. 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Again, another great book and halfway through. I want to read ALL his books as they are exactly my kind of flavour.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money July 14 2012
By pfc
I really enjoy Robinson's Inspector Banks novels but this novel was incredibly boring. I kept reading it thinking it had to get better but it was truly awful. Save your time and money and do not buy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Before The Poison April 11 2012
By Marion
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was very good, and I enjoyed it a lot and recommend it to other people. I would buy other books by this author.
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