Book Reviews

Book Review: Before the Poison.


Peter Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between his hometown and Toronto. He is the author of 19 books featuring inspector Banks.

In this his first fiction novel, intelligent dialogue, tangible setting, smart and original characters, measured humour, lucid prose, and interesting plot compel the reader to continue page after page to find out what happens next.

Recently widowed, Chris Lowndes buys a Yorkshire estate sight unseen. He composed music for the movie sound tracks in Los Angeles for more than 30 years but always thought of returning to his homeland. The death of his beloved wife prompted him to make the decision to return.

The previous tenant of the estate, Dr. Fox, was an eccentric collaborating with MI 6 during World War II while practising medicine

He was married to Grace, a nurse whom he met at the hospital where he worked.

The book opens with a scene, Grace fox being hanged in 1953, since she was found guilty of poisoning her husband.

After Mr. Lowndes arrives in the estate, he starts to believe that Grace Fox was wrongfully convicted of murder and decides to find out the truth.

The narrative switches back and forth between WW II and 2010, and the incidents that took place after that.

Grace, being a nurse, was dispatched to the Far East to nurse wounded British soldiers and then ends up in Normandy, France, in a pow camp that was previously used by Germans for poison gas experiments. Mr. Lowndes travels to Paris to interview Grace Fox’s illicit paramour, then goes to Angouleme to visit his now retired brother. Later, his investigations take him to Cape Town, and Melbourne. The author describes each town his main character visits briefly, but in enough detail to interest the reader enough to visit it.

More than anything, his descriptions of typical English pubs in Yorkshire are very revealing with regard to their “atmosphere” and regular clients. Even the food and beers appear to be appealing to the modern world-travelled Mr. Lowndes.

The court case that convicted Grace Fox explained in detail by means of newspaper accounts.

The narrative is intelligent, very versed about English country setting, mentality, culture and way of life, interspersed with trips to Paris, Angouleme, Cape Town and Melbourne.

This is solid writing, and the intelligent and intriguing plot keeps the reader on tenterhooks.

You will be thrilled reading this fiction.

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One Comment

  1. Another interesting book from Mr. Peter Robinson. I am a big fan of him.
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