Angela G. (Byram, MS)
Before The Poison by Peter Robinson
This book is as great a departure from the Inspector Banks novels as one could imagine.
It is not a procedural nor a classic who dunnit. It's a novel that asks the questions "Was a crime committed and if so, then who was behind it all?". The story line is minimal but it's fleshed out with lots of character studies, moody atmosphere, and period settings. There are enjoyable, detailed descriptions of the rural English countryside. The story journeys further afield with an immersing sense of place for parts of France and South Africa. A very old journal will carry the reader through a voyage to the Pacific Rim.
Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks novels are filled with references to music but this novel carries it even further. The protagonist, Chris Lowndes, is actually a retired musician, so there are many references to music written for movies. The denouement was a surprise, albeit a disappointing one for some. Many, including this reviewer, will not agree with the ethical choice revealed by Lowndes.
Lois P. (Logan, UT)
Left Hanging. . .
Peter Robinson is a wonderful writer! This stand alone British mystery begins with the 1953 hanging of Grace Fox then twists and turns to a surprising conclusion. Grace's tragic story is juxtaposed with that of Chris Lowndes, who buys the Fox mansion (sight unseen) where the crime took place decades earlier. Grace Fox is especially intriguing, brought to life through her harrowing WWII journal. Recommended for lovers of disturbing, moody, dark atmospheric tales. Good to the very last page!
Hilary H. (Tucson, AZ)
Before the Poison
I've been a fan of Peter Robinson for sometime having read almost all of the Inspector Banks novels. The setting was familiar - Yorkshire, but the main character (Chris Lowndes) is quite different from Insp. Banks though charming, thoughtful and a musician. The alternating story lines of the present day and the past (around WW II) work very well. I particularly liked the use of Grace's journal to reflect her WW II experiences (horrendous) as a nurse and her thoughts. The plot builds slowly but satisfyingly. I was engaged from the first few pages.
Vicky S. (Torrance, CA)
Before the Poison
This book was enjoyable with a murder mystery from years back and current emotional and relationship turmoil. I would look for other books by this author. Book clubs would enjoy the discussion about possible motives for murder as well as the movie music portion.
Betty B. (Irving, TX)
Before The Poison
Over the years I have read a number of Robinson's Inspector Banks' mysteries and have always enjoyed them. However, this book exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed the setting and the historical background. I liked the structure of the novel, and the weaving back and forth between The Famous Trials and Grace's journal and the present. Grace's journal was especially touching. Robinson brought everything together at the end and this is one of those books that I really hated to finish. Maybe there might be a sequel telling us more about Chris' Yorkshire adventures in Kilnsgate?
Darlene C. (Simpsonville, SC)
I haven't read this author's Inspector Banks novels but they are not necessary to enjoy this book. The first couple of chapters were slow going because they dealt with the geography of the story. It wasn't a "couldn't put it down", but more like an "I can't wait to get back to it" and the further I read the harder it became to wait to get back to it. I found the plot original and the characters endearing. I would recommend this book to a friend, it really should be rated 4.5!
Cecilia Z. (Montclair, New Jersey)
Good, but not great
I am a big fan of Peter Robinson and his detective, Alan Banks, and look forward to his mysteries. I found this novel a little disappointing. It is a stand-alone novel about a man who moves to England and is pulled into a mystery involving a former resident of the house he purchases, who was hanged for murder. Unlike his other books, this had a very slow pace. It was also difficult to understand why finding out what happened was so compelling to the main character. While there were a few surprises in the end, they weren't enough to explain his obsessive interest. I did enjoy the character's interest and knowledge of music and movies. That is an enjoyable theme in his other mysteries, which was more developed here. All in all, good but not great.