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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change from Banks
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...
Published on Oct. 11 2011 by Luanne Ollivier

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
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.
Published 13 months ago by simba


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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 - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
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. Some of that atmospheric feel comes from Chris's thinking he's seen something in the mirror of an old wardrobe in the house. There is another 'incident' such as this in Chris's childhood and I wondered if this would be explained or used in the story further. It wasn't, but added another layer to Chris's obsession. A revelation I didn't see coming late in the book does much to explain Chris's behaviour.

Robinson has always injected music into the Banks books. The Inspector's music collection and choices always provide a soundtrack for the story. This is continued in Before the Poison as well. Chris's choice of music often sent me online to listen to Robinson's selection of musical background.

Although others may find the pacing and lack of action a bit too slow, I enjoyed the change of pace from an author I have followed for many years, but Banks still remains my favourite. Before the Poison deserves to be slowly savoured under a single lamp, by a crackling fire in a house with creaking floors....
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadn't bothered..., Dec 2 2013
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Kindle Edition)
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
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
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
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
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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1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable, July 13 2012
This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Before The Poison, April 11 2012
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner, Oct. 27 2011
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This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
I always preorder Peter Robinson's books as I want to read them as soon as they become available.
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.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pure torture, June 8 2012
This review is from: Before the Poison (Hardcover)
This book is dreadful. The guy simply cannot write. How can anyone pen as many books as Robinson has, but be still totally unable to write?

It is full of unintended non-sequiturs due to faulty sentence structure and stupid phraseology (I can give you LOTS of examples), leading the reader into laughter at their inappropriateness, and including a healthy dose of self-pitying angst exposed by the lead character, for example at around page 405 where he berates himself (over two whole freaking pages) for getting a completely unwarranted assumption utterly wrong. And not for the first time. Either the hero is demented, or Robinson is. Or both.

And it was at around page 405 that I gave up, halfway through the page - I have NEVER gone as far into a book as this and given up because I just could not stand any more. It was pure torture.

I had already previously decided, after several chapters of mind-numbingness, to skip the interminable, exquisitely detailed, temporally misplaced and unremittingly boring flashbacks to the news articles and Grace's memoirs, as being far too badly written and of no consequence to the main storyline, such as it is. I mean - rich elderly guy buys an old house with a history, and starts to unravel (or not) its secrets while boffing his real estate agent almost half his age after losing his own wife less than a year previously. Geez, give us a break, Peter.

Maybe that personal excising of the flashbacks allowed me to continue reading as far as I did, but even then, I just eventually had to cut short my own torment in reading this rubbish. I have no idea how the book finished, nor do I care.

I give it one star simply because I could not give it zero.
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Before the Poison
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson (Hardcover - Oct. 4 2011)
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