Review: Before the Poison
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
Publisher: William Morrow
From the cover:
Chris Lowndes built a comfortable career composing scores for films in Hollywood. But after twenty-five years abroad, and still quietly reeling from the death of his beloved wife, he decides to return to the Yorkshire dales of his youth. To ease the move, he buys Kilnsgate House, a rambling old mansion deep in the country.
Although Chris finds Kilnsgate charming, something about the house disturbs him, a vague sensation that the long-empty rooms have been waiting for him—feelings made ever stronger when he learns that the house was the scene of a murder more than fifty years before. The former owner, a prominent doctor named Ernest Arthur Fox, was supposedly poisoned by his beautiful and much younger wife, Grace. Arrested and brought to trial, Grace was found guilty and hanged for the crime.
His curiosity piqued, Chris talks to the locals and searches through archives for information about the case. But the more he discovers, the more convinced he becomes that Grace may have been innocent. Ignoring warnings to leave it alone, he sets out to discover what really happened over half a century ago—a quest that takes him deep into the past and into a web of secrets that lie all too close to the present.
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson was not the fast pace and thrilling mystery novel that I’m used to reading, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The change of pace allowed me to draw out my reading experience and let the story sink in as I read it rather than racing through it.
The story starts with Chris Lowndes moving into Kilnsgate House to escape the grief he feels after his wife’s recent passing as well as to concentrate on creating a sonata in her memory. Upon moving into Kilnsgate House, however, he senses a ghost in the home and upon further investigation, discover the history behind the home. This causes him to go on a journey towards the truth and clearing Grace’s name as the murderer.
This is very much a character driven mystery. The characters and plot are extremely well developed and the mystery unfolds slowly. At the beginning of the book, each chapter started with a third person account of what occurred during the trials in which Grace was tried for the murder of her husband. In the latter chapters, the beginning included Grace’s personal journal entries of her time as a nurse during the war. These beginnings gave the readers a better understanding of Grace and it showed us her true personality as well as some background information to what happened in the past.
If you’re a patient reader and you’re looking for an entertaining mystery novel and you don’t mind a slow paced one, then I would definitely recommend this one. It was quite a change to read a mystery novel that didn’t make me want to rush through it and read it in one sitting, but it was a good change and I enjoyed being able to put it down and go to bed at a decent hour.