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!
Rated of 5
by Karen B. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Yorkshire mystery involving 50 year old murder trial a real page-turner
After a somewhat slow beginning, the reader is drawn into the main character's obsession/investigation of a possible miscarriage of justice resulting in the hanging of a woman in 1953 Yorkshire. Robinson's use of trial reports and journal entries effectively transport the reader back to World War II and the 1950s. Recommended for book clubs and anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
Rated of 5
by Connie H. (Evanston, IL)
The Hippocratic Oath
Robinson successfully draws the reader into this mystery from the past. The use of trial reports , Grace's diary along with Chris's own past combine with the narrative effectively. The contemporary story provides a vehicle for the very interesting look at the war time story.
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth W. (Newton, MA)
A most enjoyable visit . . .
To read Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison is to enjoy a comfortable extended visit with protagonist Chris Lowndes in the English countryside. His voice is as smooth and relaxing as his favorite Armagnac. The details of the house and surrounding town are drawn with such a painterly eye that now, a couple weeks after finishing the book, I still have a sharp mental image of them.
Because both the character and the setting seemed so real and down--to-earth, I found myself accepting somewhat improbable circumstances as Lowndes begins to feel the presence of the ghost of a former inhabitant of the house and to investigate the past murder of her husband and Nazi experiments in biological warfare at the house. The plot of the mystery moves at a good pace, but nothing feels forced.
The only aspect of the book that is not covered with total grace is Lowndes’ slowly developing romantic life after the death of his beloved wife. His odd attraction to the ghost of Grace Fox is more satisfying than his relationship with Heather, which remains undefined at the end of the story.
That complaint, however, is minor, and I highly recommend spending time in the company of Chris Lowndes.
Rated of 5
by MN book lover
obsessing over an old crime
A composer of Hollywood music scores, mourning the death of his wife, returns to Yorkshire where he grew up. He moves into an isolated mansion and becomes interested in the former owner who was hanged for the murder of her husband. His curiosity becomes an obsession as he tries to prove her innocence. A good premise for a novel, but it is quite slow-moving, not very realistic, and not all that interesting. The conclusion makes one wonder why one had to spend so much time getting there. Average at best.
Rated of 5
by 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.
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