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Before the Poison

By Peter Robinson

Before the Poison
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2012,
    368 pages.

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There are currently 27 reader reviews for Before the Poison
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Juli S. (Portland, OR) (01/17/12)

A change of pace from the author's Inspector Banks series.
Having been a fan of Robinson’s Inspector Banks series for years, I expected to like this standalone mystery. I was not disappointed at all. The format of telling the story of the present day investigation while telling the historical part of the story through excerpts from books and from Elizabeth Fox’s own diary works well. It’s a mystery but it’s also about relationships, guilt, and a bit of a history lesson added to the mix.

Robinson takes a break from procedurals and scores a win with this one. The story kept me guessing and the musical references made me wish there was a playlist available.
Elizabeth W. (Newton, MA) (01/14/12)

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.
Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI) (01/03/12)

a delectable mystery
Peter Robinson's Before the Poison is an old-fashioned mystery that had me entranced from the first page. A recently widowed composer purchases Kilnsgate House, an isolated mansion in the English countryside, where a murder had been committed years before. The man, convinced that the wrong person had been accused, becomes obsessed with the story.

The book is skillfully written, going between the early journals of Grace Fox, the alleged murderer, and the challenges she faced as a nurse in World War II, and the contemporary account of the man who now owns her home. As he travels to Paris and England to unravel the mystery, the reader is completely drawn into the story. I read at a leisurely pace, savoring the Gothic elements and attention to detail.

I plan to purchase several copies of this book for friends who appreciate fine writing and a well-told mystery. I give Before the Poison my highest recommendation!
Connie H. (Evanston, IL) (01/02/12)

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.
David V. (Wayside, NJ) (12/31/11)

Before The Poison
This was an interesting blend of mystery and a love story. Although the fate of one of the main characters was evident from the begining, the author used some clever flashback techniques to keep the reader in suspense and involved in the plot. A key element was the English manor which the protagonist had recently acquired. I could almost feel the drafts, mysterious noises and long-dead inhabitants of the huge, isolated mansion. The characters were interesting and realistic, some quite intriguing and eccentric. I recommend this book for fans of interesting plots, WWII history and English landscapes.
Karen B. (Pittsburgh, PA) (12/29/11)

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.
Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO) (12/25/11)

Before the Poison
“Before the Poison” is a first-rate book. Robinson has told a mesmerizing story weaving the present and the past together in such a way that I could not put the book down. I was enthralled with the way the author brought the murder mystery from the past into the present and how it affected the current characters and their lives. I loved the descriptions of England and Paris and especially the descriptions of the English nurses and their perils through WWII. I highly recommend this book.
Angela G. (Byram, MS) (12/24/11)

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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