23 August 2016

Review: BEFORE THE POISON, Peter Robinson

Synopsis (Amazon)

 After years of Hollywood success composer Chris Lowndes wanted only one thing: to take his beloved wife home to the Yorkshire Dales.

 But Laura is gone, and Chris is on his own.

 He welcomes the isolation of Kilnsgate House, and the beauty of the dale. And it doesn't surprise him that a man died there, sixty years ago. That his wife was convicted of murder. That something is pulling him deeper and deeper into the story of Grace Elizabeth Fox, who was hanged by the neck until she was dead . . .

 My Take

In tone this novel reminds me somewhat of the Gothic-style tales that I used to read nearly 50 years ago: an isolated house in the Yorkshire dales where a convicted murderer once lived, a possible ghost sighting, a possible miscarriage of justice.

The author cleverly brings a cold case, via extracts from a book positioned at the beginning of each chapter, together with a modern investigation. What surprised me was that the original case was in the 1950s - that part of the narration has a much older feel, almost 19th century.

But then, mid way, the story takes a turn that I wasn't expecting. At first Chris Lowndes felt the need to prove that Grace was innocent, that there had been a miscarriage of justice. Then comes the about face where he doubts her innocence. But above all he wants to understand what happened and so he sets out to track Sam, Grace's young lover, and then finally the young soldier Grace was seen walking with just days before her husband's death. A stranger turns up at Kilnsgate with some very important evidence.

This is a stand-alone, very readable and almost plausible.
Winner of Canada's Arthur Ellis award for best novel.

 My Rating: 4.5

1 comment:

Clothes In Books said...

Oh I like the sound of this, I always like a crime set in the past, and I think I might prefer it to his series novels.


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