Englischsprachige Literatur

Robinson Peter

Before the Poison

Hodder&Stoughton, London 2011


Obviously Robinson got fed up with his DCI Banks after 19 parts of the series and decided to try for “something completely different” (the Monty Pythons).

We meet Chris Lowndes, renowned composer of film music, who returns from California to the Yorkshire Dales after the death of his beloved wife Laura. Through Heather Barlow, an estate agent, he buys Kilnsgate House and when he first sees it, he is stunned by its grandeur. He falls in love with the house although he soon discovers that it is haunted by its past, because in the early 1950s the wife of the previous owner Dr. Fox, Grace, poisoned her husband there and was hanged.

In a frenzy Chris tries to find out everything about Clare Fox and is drawn more and more into the past. So again, Robinson can dwell in nostalgia and relive the glorious times of the second world war, when Clare worked as a nurse in battlefields around the world. When she came back she took an 18-year-old lover, who conveniently is still alive in Paris. So Chris can interview him and quite a few other survivors.

He starts an affair with beautiful Heather and begins work on a piano sonata, music in its own right, not just for films, as he always really wanted to be a serious composer. Might Robinson with this novel also try to write some serious literature, not just light fiction for the masses?

Anyway, in the end we know a lot more about Clare than we wanted to, but still not, if she killed her husband. What we know for sure is, that Chris killed his cancer-stricken wife with an overdose of morphine. All very well, but not particularly striking.