Through years of success in Hollywood composing music for Oscar-winning films, Chris Lowndes always imagined he would come full circle, home to Yorkshire with his beloved wife, Laura. Now he’s back in the Yorkshire Dales, but Laura is dead, and Chris needs to make a new life for himself.
The isolated house he buys sight unseen should give him the space to come to terms with his grief and the quiet to allow to him to work. Kilnsgate House turns out to be rather more than he expected, however. A man died there, 60 years ago. His wife was convicted of murder. And something is pulling Chris deeper and deeper into the story of Grace Elizabeth Fox, who was hanged by the neck until she was dead….
Peter Robinson’s first departure from the Banks series in over 20 years is a poignant exploration of guilt, self-sacrifice, and redemption ,and a novel of unsettling psychological suspense. Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between Richmond and Canada.
©2011 Peter Robinson (P)2011 Hodder & Stoughton
Robinson cleverly combines a 2011 storyline of a man greaving for his wife with a 1950's murder mystery. Did Grace Fox kill her husband? Who was she, what kind of life did she live - a restricted life of a country doctors wife constrained by 1950's morality? We learn that there was a lot more to Grace than that, a remarkable woman who lived through a remarkable time in history. There were plently of twists and turns in this plot to keep me guessing right to the end. I loved this mystery, and I came away feeling like I had learned a lot more about women in 1940's and 50's Britain. I cant wait to listen to it again! All the ingredients of a great download - enjoy!!
Social Scientist and Researcher; mostly retired but conducting longitudinal research into social issues especially the media and social networking. Avid SF and alternative history fan; enjoy a good crime yarn and have become something of an addict for audiobooks.
Peter Robinson has left D.I. Allan Banks for the moment. The publicity that accompanies the audible.com profile is spot on and I found this a compelling mystery. A grieving widower buys a house in a bleaker part of the Yorkshire Dales. Having experience in this type of house myself, I can attest to the sometimes creepy atmosphere. Chris Lowndes, the unsuspecting house-buyer hadn't purchased the house, his life may well have taken a different tack but the real hook is that the former owners, a doctor and his attractive wife lived, until he is poisoned. His wife, an enigmatic figure permeates the whole novel from the account of her hanging in the early 1950s to the start in her own words in the second part of the novel. Had this been in paper, it would have needed to be pried from my hands. I couldn't stop listening, such was the compelling nature of the story and the accomplished narrative. Lowndes, the unsuspecting and conned house-buyer is a sympathetic character and his late loved wife and memories are shaken and stirred by an almost-ghost story and his whole life is upturned by a preoccupation with an executed woman whose story reverberates throughout the book, to the extent that although she remained enigmatic to me, she was real: I don't think I can speak more highly of credibility.
Nicey pace, excellent story. Robinson keeps up the usual tension in an unusual basis for this story. The narrator bills the tension just right.
Peter Robinson always writes a good story. This is a most unusual story. It's a crime story. It's a war story. It's a love story. The narrators are excellent. I became drawn into the story and it is only in the last 30 minutes you have all the facts. There are still some threads you need to decide for yourself. It is a very satisfying book. I listened once and listened again. I highly recommend this book.
Many issues and events included in one book yet with effortless readability. Great reading from a most talented writer to whom I am most grateful for such wonderful entertainment.
"Didn't want it to end"
I loved this book. I chose it as a bit if a wildcard, having never read anything from the author previously. I was gripped from the start. I particularly liked it was set in North Yorkshire, an area I know well.
This book went off in a completely different direction than I expected, however I found it moving and fascinating at the same time.
I listen to audiobooks in my car and on more than one occasion I had to drive around the book because I wanted to hear more. A real gem which I didn't want to end.
Having read all this author's "Inspector Banks" books, this stand alone story is generally excellent. It is rather "old fashioned" and at times the storyline "rambles" As an audiobook the fact that different narrators relate the story is very relaxing and bring the narrative alive!. readers/listeners who are conversant with Robinson's previous books should ignore the insp Banks format and appreciate this book.
"A different direction a welcome change"
I love all the Banks novels and have waited eagerly for the relaease of each one. I have also enjoyed Robinson's short story compilations.This novel shows he is not a one trick pony. All I can say is I enjoyed it so much I changed my days to give me extra listening time. Thank you Peter keep it up.
"Peter Robinson at his very best."
As a long-standing fan of DI Alan Banks, I was not sure I'd take easily to his absence from a Peter Robinson novel, but ‘Before the Poison’ has convinced me that Mr. Robinson does not need the established figure of DI Banks to prove his worth as a writer of gripping fiction. I was intrigued from the outset; Robinson uses the familiar setting of a brooding, wintry Yorkshire - a landscape which he has always painted extremely vividly - and has peopled it with believable, often likeable, characters. Earlier on in the book we are treated to some wonderfully spine-tingling moments, brought about by Chris Lowe's ‘visions’ when he is alone in the house, but we are never thrust into the realms of pure fantasy. Chris is sensitive, but we are never led to believe he is ‘flaky’ or impressionable.
Grace Fox's narrative is, for me, the most engrossing element of the book, developing her character whilst making no direct reference to the crime for which she was hanged. I also found it surprising as I had never before heard Robinson speak so convincingly with a woman’s voice.
Simon Slater does an admirable job of portraying a range of characters: male, female, transatlantic and Yorkshire born-and-bred but his young, mellifluous voice made it difficult for me to visualise a 60-year-old man. For some reason I kept imagining a character resembling Rupert Penry-Jones. An older voice would have made it easier to put a face to Chris Lowe’s character.
This aside, I was completely absorbed in the story. I loved the many layers of the developing plot, the red herrings – oh yes, I was totally convinced I’d ‘got it’ on at least two occasions! – the drawing together of all the threads and now, 24 hours after listening to the closing sentences, I can still feel the reverberations of Grace’s traumatic war-time experiences and the late-night stirrings in the rooms of Kilnsgate House. Peter Robinson has excelled himself with this one. Absolutely brilliant.
I bought this because I knew the area around Richmond and I liked the fact that it was not a detective novel in the usual sense. I liked the descriptions they painted a good picture for the storyline. The characters were real and believable both in the current and historical settings - it does come as a shock that the main character is 60 - the narrator seems so much younger.....but nothing is spoilt by this. All in all an excellent effort that entertained and provoked many thoughts on the issues of war, particularly in the far east.
"Back on form!"
Peter Robinson is definitely back on form after the disappointing and quite frankly appalling Bad Boy. I have loved the rest of the Inspector Banks novels so wasn't sure what to expect from this stand alone. However, it was absolutely gripping and shows that Robinson can write a fantastic story. All the characters are convincing and you feel as if you are right there in a Yorkshire winter. The narrator does a brilliant job although I do agree with other reviewers that his youthful voice is not quite right for the 60 something year old Chris!
"A major change in direction"
This was an unexpected, gripping and at times heartbreaking listen. The recording was first rate, the readers presented the characters excellently.
"Exellent and gripping"
I was not disappointed by this book, and found it a real 'page turner', keeping me awake when listening at night! I really enjoyed the structure of the book with the different voices turn taking. I have recommended this to friends and would to anyone else who wants something other than a straight forward 'detective' story. I did not find the voice of Chris too youthful, but refreshing that his voice was not unnecessarily 'elderly.'
Have every books peter has written,all great ,brilliant.but BEFORE THE POISON is the best.the story the twists didnt want the book to finish.the way the story went from pasted to present was so natural.
"Good, but not great...."
My first foray into the world of Peter Robinson and thought that this was quite unique in the manner the story unfolded. I agree with another listener; as I also found the reading was a little slow and on occasions unnecessarily drawn out (Helped me drop of to sleep and had to keep rewinding!). The female voices were not brilliant, but did not detract from the enjoyment. The character of Dr Fox was portrayed so dourly and Grace so differently; it feels somewhat unbelievable, that they were a married couple, as there was no sense of connection between them within the story. This is a well thought out tale, with lots of twists and turns and as can be seen from some of the reviews – was enjoyed by many. However, I never really connected with the main character and for reasons which I can not put my finger on - for me the elusive X factor was missing.
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