Before the Poison Paperback – Jun 5 2012
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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. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
This book was excellent, I won't reiterate what the previous reviewer said as I agree with him. The book was slow paced but you didn't become impatient with the writing. I do admit, I did drink more wine than usual reading the book because Chris always seemed to be sipping a glass of red.
The fact that Mr. Robinson can leave his Inspector Banks series and write such a well developed book, only speaks of how talented he is.
The second was an excellent history lesson on how the nurses and indeed other women were treated and subsequently ignored in WW2 who endured terrible atrocities and sadly were told to go home and return to the role of wife and mother and not talk about the lives they endured. I like to think that women in most parts of the world have made tremendous advances since to assure their true roles in history. The only parts I found somewhat boring were the selections of the book about the trial which I think could have been condensed considerably.
I hope Robinson will work on more Inspector Banks novels in the near future.
It begins when Chris Lowndes, reeling from the death of his wife, decides to buy a home on the Yorkshire Dales. He purchases Kilnsgate House, a large, bleak, isolated structure in which he hopes to recover from his depression, and, perhaps write a sonata instead of the incidental music for motion pictures which he did for many years on the West Coast of the US. No sooner does he take possession than he becomes haunted by its past: Grace Fox, the former owner, was accused and convicted of poisoning her husband, a respected local physician. And she was hanged for it.
Chris becomes so obsessed that he endeavors to 'discover' the truth, initially convinced that she was innocent of the charge. The author leads the reader (and Chris) from supposition to fact, alternating excerpts of Grace's wartime diary (she was a nurse, first in Singapore, then escaping the Japanese, suffering a series of devastating experiences, finally serving in France before returning to her husband at Kilnsgate House) and various interviews with aged characters, including her younger lover now living in Paris and a man who as a seven-year-old lived with the Foxes for a time as an evacuee at the beginning of World War II.
The shifts in the plot, as Chris conducts his 'investigation,' are truly ingenious, keeping the reader off balance to a fare-thee-well. The characters are well-drawn, and the author undertook deep research to create Grace's diary. While the novel may seem at times somewhat dry and slow to read, it constantly draws the reader forward and is well worth reading, and it is highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked it a lot. Quite different than Robinson's usual story but captivating.Published 14 months ago by Ronald S. Porter
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. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2013 by Karen-Marie
Disappointing for a Peter Robinson book, I found the main character weak and lacking in credibility, the whole story seemed somehow contrived. Read morePublished on March 7 2013 by simba
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.Published on Jan. 27 2013 by Compost
Again, another great book and halfway through. I want to read ALL his books as they are exactly my kind of flavour.Published on Jan. 15 2013 by valerie holmes
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. Read morePublished on July 14 2012 by pfc
Robinson is a mediocre writer, but his Inspector Banks books are usually entertaining, and the Yorkshire setting is interesting. But this book is awful. Read morePublished on July 13 2012 by Nikkassofan