Before the Poison (Hardcover)

By Peter Robinson

William Morrow, 9780062004796, 368pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2012



"The accomplished Robinson never disappoints, mixing well-developed characterizations with edge-of-the-seat action."
--New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Make no mistake, he's among the very best."
--The Times (London)

Already justifiably acclaimed for his bestselling crime fiction novels featuring British Chief Inspector Alan Banks ("The best series now on the market" --Stephen King), Peter Robinson delivers a truly stunning standalone thriller, Before the Poison. Brilliantly combining the rich, atmospheric narrative of his award-winning In a Dry Season with the twists and suspense of the noir classic Laura, Before the Poison tells the riveting story of a composer who comes to the scene of a notorious crime and becomes obsessed with a beautiful, mysterious, and possibly very dangerous woman. Evocatively set in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, Before the Poison is a masterful tale of mystery and suspense from the Anthony and Edgar(R) Award winner whose extraordinary fiction Janet Maslin of the New York Times compared to, "the masculine, brooding work of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, George P. Pelecanos, and Jonathan Kellerman."

Praise For Before the Poison

-Globe and Mail on Before the Poison

Conversation Starters from

  1. Why do you think Peter Robinson called the novel Before the Poison? What meaning does the title hold?
  2. What propels Chris Lowndes to return to England? If you have left your hometown, would you consider moving back later in your life?
  3. What draws him to investigate the Grace Fox case? Do you think he was smitten with her ghost? Do you believe in ghosts? Chris had the feeling that the Kilnsgate House was waiting for him. Do you agree? Would he have felt that way if his own circumstances had been different?
  4. The author begins each chapter with journal entries and excerpts from a chronicle of the Grace Fox case. How do these extraneous materials illuminate the story? What do we learn from reading them?
  5. Do you think the story would make a good movie and who would you cast in the various roles?
  6. How does Chris go about piecing together the truth about Grace? What did each of the people he spoke to have to add to the story?
  7. In revealing the full story about Grace, Chris shares a dark secret of his own. Is what he did a crime or an act of utmost kindness?
  8. Do you think uncovering Grace's story has helped Chris to cope with his own grief and find the fresh beginning he yearns for?
  9. Grace barely survived World War II, yet she felt guilt at making it through. Why?
  10. Why did Grace disapprove of her husband's work? Do you think his research was immoral? Why? Argue the question from both sides.
  11. Except for her diary, Grace did not talk about her experiences during the war. If she had, might it have changed anything? How much was she a woman trapped by the age in which she lived? Should she have just left her husband? What would have the consequences been if she had? Compare and contrast Grace's situation with that of Chris's real estate agent and new friend, Heather.
  12. Chris composes musical scores for Hollywood movies. How does the background music emotionally affect a viewer? Do you notice the music when are watching a film? If you like film scores, is there a particular one that fits Before the Poison?
  13. How does the weather and the setting add to the novel's atmosphere?