Before the Poison – Peter Robinson

Posted: April 21, 2016 in Book Reviews
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As a fan of the DCI Banks TV series, I thought it was about time I read one of his creator Peter Robinson’s novels. However, the one I grabbed from the bookshelf in a hurry turned out not to be about DCI Banks.

Nevertheless, I have found ‘Before the Poison’ a riveting read. Unlike the DCI Banks books it’s not a police procedural, more a mystery story with aspects of supernatural. It’s about a successful musician who buys a secluded and rambling manor house on the North Yorkshire moors. His wife has just died and he becomes obsessed with proving that the woman who owned the house before him should not have been hanged for murdering her husband. Metaphorical ghosts and real ones abound, the later in the form of the hanged woman Grace’s diary.

I don’t know how this compares to the DCI Banks books but I loved Peter Robinson’s style of writing. He uses a range of devices along with the journal to imply Grace’s story, including dreams and talking to his own dead wife. But he uses them with great skill and believability. For classical music and cinema lovers there are continuous references from the protagonist’s experience of writing film music which add to the enjoyment.

‘Before the Poison’ is an interesting and satisfying read. Well recommended. And now I shall look forward to reading something from the DCI Banks series.


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