Peter Robinson

Before the Poison

"This is a brilliant novel that is all the better for Banks’ absence. "


Chris Lowndes forged a career writing music for the movies, otherwise known as 'music nobody listens to'. After many years promising his wife that one day they would move away from LA and buy a house in Yorkshire, Chris has finally managed to realise one dream. His only heartache is that his wife, Laura, died before the dream became a reality. Kilnsgate House is a big house desolately set in the Yorkshire countryside. The nearest neighbours live over a mile away. And soon after moving in Chris hears the true history of the house that was suppressed during his purchase of Kilnsgate House.

On New Years Eve of1953 during a snowstorm when the inhabitants were marooned in Kilnsgate House, Grace Fox allegedly poisoned her husband, the local doctor. It was these events that led Grace to be hanged. Why wouldn't she speak at her own trial? Was the fact she was having an affair paint her as a scarlet woman and therefore, a murderess?

Nearly sixty years on, Chris feels that Grace's true story was never told and begins to dig under the surface to find the real Grace Fox and what made her act the way she did that winter's night in 1953…

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Before we start let's get the 'Banks' issue out of the way. This is not a Banks novel and, to be honest, if he had been in it I am sure it would have felt as though he had been 'shoehorned' into the story. 'Before the Poison' has many different levels and even the title refers on varying degrees to many of the plot strands that surface in this fascinating and haunting novel. With adept professionalism, Robinson brings to the reader a story that is tantalisingly unravelled like a poisoned present; a plot that uncoils like the proverbial serpent. At times 'Before the Poison' is a haunting love story and also one of obsession. Chris' obsession with his dead wife as well as the long-departed Grace Fox are extremely powerful emotions that Robinson brings magnificently to the page. Some of the scenes of the house, with its creaks, groans and the possibility of a ghost gliding along the corridors is very emotive and brought the hairs standing up on my neck! It takes a lot to scare me, but even I had to put this book down after beginning to feel freaked out in the dead of night! Even now, writing this and remembering the scenes I have shivers running down my spine! Although there are some spooky moments this isn't classic ghost territory. What this story is about is the search for truth and poses the question if good people can do bad deeds? It questions if evil is evil and good is good or whether there can be a blurring of the two? And as always with this author, there is a resolution that brings everything full circle. This is a brilliant novel that is all the better for Banks' absence. You feel this is a story Robinson has wanted to tell for some time – and now he has had the chance he has created a spellbinding tale which has all the right ingredients – a haunting, moving tale that will get you thinking days after the last word has been read.

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