>> Monday, February 20, 2012
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2012
Source: Copy provided by publisher through Bookbrowse
The Short Version:
Successful Hollywood composer returns to Yorkshire after the death of his wife and becomes fascinated (or obsessed?) with a murder that happened more than 50 years ago in the house he’s bought.
Why I Read It:
I have been a fan of Robinson’s Inspector Banks series for years. When I found out that his newest book was a standalone mystery I knew I’d read it as soon as I could.
Christopher Lowndes has had a successful career in Hollywood composing award winning movie scores. After the death of his wife he returns to England. He buys a house in Yorkshire, where he grew up. It’s an old mansion with a history. Part of that history is an infamous murder. Grace Fox was young and beautiful and she was hanged for the murder of her much older husband.
As Chris tries to settle in to both the village and his life alone he begins to feel as if the eerie feelings he’s having have something to do with Grace Fox and the murder. He begins to ask questions and investigate what happened so many years ago.
Before long he is accused of being somewhat obsessed with the Grace Fox case and his search for evidence of her innocence. The more questions he asks and the more information he finds, the darker and more confusing become the long held secrets.
As Chris seeks the truth about Grace, he also must face some truths about himself in order to move on with his life in his new home.
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 Grace 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.
Kilnsgate House is almost a character in this book. It’s a big old drafty and dark character. Although plenty of the story takes place elsewhere, it is Kilnsgate House that holds the key and is where Chris feels his connection with Grace. I could see much of this story playing out in my head as an old black and white film from the glamour days of Hollywood. Naturally the character of Chris and his connection to the film industry plays into that imagery, but it’s helped along by the films and music he watches and listens to throughout the book. The musical references are tossed in throughout and I need to go back through the book and make notes of them.
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.
The US edition of this one is on sale tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and get to your local bookstore to get it. If you’re a fan of the Inspector Banks series you’ll like the change of pace. If you haven’t read Peter Robinson’s work before, give this one a try and then go back to read the Inspector Banks series from the beginning.