Corinne S. (Paoli, PA)
Kilnsgate where my future will begin.
Chris Lowndes builds suspense and curiosity which makes you read with passion as he digs in the past to reveal the truth behind a murder committed fifty years ago in his present home "Kilnsgate", in Yorkshire, England. Peter Robinson's award-winning writing talents keep you glued to the story with each piece of the puzzle he uncovers about Grace Elizabeth Fox's murder of her husband. During the research, we learn of the work done during WWII by military nurses. The horrors of war, the compassion and skill needed to survive your surroundings. It is not until the end that you fully understand what happened and why.
Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)
A solid read
I have read the Inspector Banks series written by Peter Robinson, so I already have a healthy respect for his writing. This book was a slight departure from his usual mysteries. It takes place in the Yorkshire area as do his other stories, but it is a gentler tale- part ghost story, part love story, and part mystery on several levels. The story moves slowly at first, and I couldn't really tell where it was headed. For that reason, I began to wonder how long it was going to take to gain some momentum.
The plot unfolds in several voices. The narrator is Chris Lowndes, returning to England after the death of his wife in California, where they had lived for many years. Chris buys a house, sight unseen, and once he moves in, he discovers that the wife of the original owner was hanged for the murder of her husband. Partly because of his need to distract himself from the grief he still feels for the death of his wife, and partly because he feels and sees something in the house, he starts investigating the circumstances of the murder and subsequent trial. At this point , the narration is interspersed with accounts of the trial. At another point, Grace's journal becomes another voice heard. Grace was the woman hanged for the murder of her husband, Dr. Ernest Fox. This is when I became hooked and couldn't stop reading.
The author has done an excellent job of carrying the story back and forth from England during WWII to the present time as he weaves the different threads necessary to the solving of the mystery of who Grace Fox was and if she truly murdered her husband. The various characters are believable and interesting, and I think many readers will find this to be a first rate read.
Nan G. (Mazomanie, WI)
Perfect winter afternoon reading!
First let me say I am a huge Peter Robinson fan. His Inspector Banks series is one of my favorites so I started this stand alone novel with high hopes and was not completely disappointed. Robinson's talent for transporting his readers to the scene of his novels is in high gear in Beore the Poison, as is his love of music and knack for adding a soundtrack to the pages. With one exception, the characters feel fully thought out and the protagonist, Chris Lowndes, is charming. The exception, Heather, comes across as shallow and one dimensional compared to others even less important than she is to the plot.
The mystery at the heart of the novel kept me engaged until the last page- well researched, full of historical detail about the experiences of nurses during WWII, Robinson delivers a novel that I will recommend to others.
Joan C. (Warwick, RI)
Before the Poison
Before the Poison is a low-key mystery that seems to draw you in gradually as you read the text. It offers some interesting facts concerning what it like for women who served as nurses in the military during WWII. As you read along, you certainly want to know what the dead heroine was all about. Did she commit the crime? Little by little the author draws you into the story as he reveals clues and speculations around "Grace", who died years before the story begins to unfold. This book turns out to be an unusual "who done it" and You have to follow the story through to the end to find out what really happened.
Kathleen S. (St Louis, MO)
Different Direction for Peter Robinson
This is not a book in the Inspector Banks series by Robinson, so those expecting one will be disappointed. That said, this book was very thoughtfully written and kept me up at night wanting to read "just one more" chapter. It's atmospheric narrative brings Yorkshire and its villages to life. It is a very visually written story that put me readily into the plot. A good read for a cold winter night.
Vy A. (Phoenix, AZ)
Before the Poison
Chris Lowndes, in my opinion, is as charming a protagonist you will meet in literature. In Before the Poison he is a grieving widower who retires to his native Yorkshire from California. The opening scenes are shades of Rebecca, with a foreboding mansion and the ghost of a sensational murder that took place sixty years prior. Told in first person narrative, his voice is sensitive and captivating as his expertise in several areas is woven beautifully throughout the story. A former writer of musical scores for Hollywood, specific composers’ works are constantly playing in the background and by the end of the book I had a year’s worth of classical movies to add to my Netflix list. It is a sensuous book in many respects—with food, wine, descriptive English scenery...and love. Chris, although still grieving, falls in love again both with living Heather and with dead Grace, who was hung for the poisoning of her physician husband in the very room he unknowing chose as his bedroom. Grace, however, becomes very alive to the reader as her journals of a WWII nurse are engrossing with descriptions of war horrors from a female viewpoint. As Chris becomes consumed with the crime and tries to prove Grace’s innocence, this becomes a true page-turner, unable to put down book I devoured in a bittersweet fashion—couldn’t stop reading, yet I didn’t want my time with Chris to end. Story-telling at its best.