>> Thursday, September 13, 2012
Today's topic is to talk about a book I think needs more recognition.
I looked at the books I've rated the highest this year and one of them stands out for being far less represented in both my Google Reader and Fyrefly's Book Blogs Search Engine*.
So let's talk about Peter Robinson's Before the Poison.
I've been a fan of Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series for many years. I like Alan Banks despite his flaws. The stories are and characters are always interesting without a lot of fast paced action or sidekick witty banter. They are slower paced and quite intelligent mysteries.
I hadn't read any of his standalone novels before but when I saw the cover of his latest standalone I was intrigued right away.
Look at that. I love that cover. It gives a clue about the time period and mood and had me interested even before I read the description.
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.
My thoughts on the book (from the review I posted back in February).
The format of telling the story of the present day investigation while telling the historical part of the story through excerpts from books and from Grace Fox’s own diary works well. It’s a mystery but it’s also about relationships, guilt, and a bit of a history lesson added to the mix.
Kilnsgate House is almost a character in this book. It’s a big old drafty and dark character. Although plenty of the story takes place elsewhere, it is Kilnsgate House that holds the key and is where Chris feels his connection with Grace. I could see much of this story playing out in my head as an old black and white film from the glamour days of Hollywood. Naturally the character of Chris and his connection to the film industry plays into that imagery, but it’s helped along by the films and music he watches and listens to throughout the book. The musical references are tossed in throughout and I need to go back through the book and make notes of them.
Robinson takes a break from procedurals and scores a win with this one. The story kept me guessing and the musical references made me wish there was a playlist available.
I read this early in the year and it remains one of my favorite reads of 2012
*For any booklover out there Fyrefly's Book Blogs Search Engine is one of the most useful tools out there. Do yourself a favor and bookmark it if you haven't already.
Check out posts from other Book Blogger Appreciation Week participants at the main BBAW site.