Before the Poison

Peter Robinson. Morrow, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-200479-6
At the outset of this haunting stand-alone from Arthur Ellis Award–winner Robinson (No Cure for Love), British film composer Chris Lowndes, a recent widower, leaves California after more than 30 years for the peace and quiet of the Yorkshire countryside. He buys isolated Kilnsgate House, which the estate agent neglects to mention was the site of a sensational crime. Intercut are passages from a fictional true crime book, Famous Trials, depicting the 1953 case against Grace Fox, who was convicted of poisoning her husband, Dr. Ernest Fox, at Kilnsgate, and hanged. While Chris’s initial interest is simple curiosity, the more he learns about Grace, the more his interest veers toward obsession. In piecing together the murder case and Grace’s extraordinary life as a nurse during WWII, Chris discovers as much about himself as he does about her. Robinson manages a melancholy tone without veering into the maudlin, and the presence of Grace Fox permeates every page. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
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