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Download Before the Poison: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Before the Poison: A Novel Audiobook, by Peter Robinson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,411 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Robinson Narrator: Simon Prebble, Susan Lyons, Toby Lennet Moore Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2012 ISBN: 9780062116253
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Robinson outdoes Daphne du Maurier in creating the proper atmosphere for the imaginative fancies of a grief-stricken man.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An exciting quest culminating in a shocking climax, underpinned with big issues of evil, punishment, retribution, and self-sacrifice.”

    Oxford Times

  • “[A] haunting stand-alone…Robinson manages a melancholy tone without veering into the maudlin.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Compelling…Toby Moore and Susan Lyons are both vital to this presentation, which moves back and forth in time and point of view…Moore splendidly renders the modern Chris and…Lyons movingly captures Grace through her heartbreaking WWII diaries.”


  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel
  • Winner of the 2013 Dilys Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jo Panke | 2/20/2014

    " Interesting story, weak ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 2/11/2014

    " Enjoyable but more sporadically than I would have liked. A sideline that worked but wasn't outstanding by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shonna Froebel | 2/3/2014

    " This is a wonderful novel with a very interesting mystery. Chris Lowndes left England decades ago and has a successful American career writing music for films. Following his wife's recent death, he has decided to return to his home country and has bought a large house in rural Yorkshire. As he settles in, he learns that a previous owner of the house, Grace Fox, was tried and hanged for murdering her husband. The story intrigues him and he wants to know more. As he locates and reads a write-up of the trial, and follows leads to local people and those who have moved elsewhere, he is drawn to Grace as a person and believes she could not have committed such a crime. Along the way he is also making himself a new home in Yorkshire, finding new friends, meeting his neighbours and coming to terms with moving on in his own life. The story will take him back to his own childhood and beyond to World War II. It will take him beyond his new home in Yorkshire to France and South Africa. It will take him beyond his grief to a new way of living. The references to music, movies, and books are classic Peter Robinson and fit neatly into the story here. The emotional and nostalgic feelings of his characters are well drawn and make sense both in the story and with the characters. This is a story of past and present, motives and morals, that gripped me strongly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 1/21/2014

    " Totally different from the Inspector Banks books, but very good. I enjoyed this one a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 1/19/2014

    " Chris Lowndes, after years of living in Hollywood, returns to Yorkshire to live. He buys a huge old house unseen and moves in. He becomes almost obsessed with the history Elizabeth Fox who was hanged in 1950's for the murder of her husband and who had lived in the house. Each chapter starts with excerpts from records of the trial and from Elizabeth's diary during the war. Chris pieces together a story of remarkable woman. A good read as a mystery and historically. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joie | 1/18/2014

    " Very atmospheric mystery about a grieving widower trying to solve the puzzle of a murder which took place in his new house over 60 years previously. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ruth | 1/18/2014

    " I was expecting a detective book- but found a book instead of a historical mystery, with information which does need to be told......it was an excellent book, I felt well written with wonderful descriptions.....I don't often rate books at a 5 star rating, but felt this book was just such a book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lori Knight | 1/17/2014

    " Often times this story seemed repetetive and way too rich in details to which I had no reference point. The author would name songs/composers, stores, liquor brands, and other specifics which just seemed to create a drag in the storyline for me. There were alao many characters introduced that had no bearing on the story itself (like his daughter and her husband who popped by for Christmas). Other characters such as the housemaid were mentioned but never developed into a good part of the action. The story really never took off for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Hadley | 1/11/2014

    " I really enjoyed the story line and found that the author wove the past and present seamlessly. First time I've read this author and I will definitely read him again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/10/2014

    " Similar in tone, pacing, and style to "What is Left the Daughter." Excellent storytelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve P | 1/1/2014

    " I'm a big fan of Robinson's Inspector Banks series so I was a bit disappointed when this standalone started out like a Daphne DuMaurier gothic romance. Definitely worth sticking with, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 11/20/2013

    " Somewhat to my surprise, I really enjoyed this novel. Robinson manages to make an intriguing mystery out of nothing very mysterious. In the end, this is more of a character study than a mystery but there are certainly elements of suspense - and, of course, I appreciated the historical details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula | 10/30/2013

    " Good all around mystery. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 10/21/2013

    " Another 3.5er. The ending was pitched perfectly and the last sentence brief, but haunting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 9/24/2013

    " Really enjoyed this one! Writing style was great and the plot was very believable, ending just the way it should if you followed the characters closely. Will go back and find some of his past novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan Clayton | 4/9/2013

    " This was terrific. Surprising to the end and I learned a great deal about limekilns which are abundant in this area as well as in the UK. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuk | 1/6/2013

    " Good, kind of like a cozy historical mystery. Lots of details about food, music etc -- two books in a row with classical music references mostly going over my head. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 9/13/2012

    " An enjoyable stand alone. Reminded me of Robert goddard as the plot mixed past and present to great effect. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lea | 7/4/2012

    " Liked the characters but found the book a slow read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 6/26/2012

    " A moody, atmospheric mystery that's perfect for the chilly nights ahead! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Hoadley | 5/18/2012

    " I have put this book as one of my Top Picks. I really enjoyed the diversion of style that the author created with this novel. Several aspects set it apart from the "norm" and I have had pleasure in recommending it to friends. Well done, Mr Robinson.. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellen O'brien | 4/10/2012

    " I meant to grab a book by Robotham and got this one instead. Interesting twist at the end but not a book to keep me glued to my chair. Man buys house; sees ghost?; investigates her hanging; solves mystery to his satisfaction. Not enough ghost. Not enough mystery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie | 4/1/2012

    " There were plot twists aplenty, but not much else to like about this non-series work. As much as I love Robinson's Inspector Banks series, I did not enjoy this one. I found it wordy, whiney, and a bit boring. Sorry, Mr. Robinson! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan Borland | 3/7/2012

    " Have read all Peter Robinsons books all very much the same and very readable. "

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About the Author
Author Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson is the author of the award-winning Inspector Banks novels, among them a Best Book of the Year from Publishers Weekly, a New York Times Notable Book, and a Page Turner of the Week from People. His novels have reached #1 on the London Sunday Times bestsellers list and hit the New York Times expanded list of bestsellers. His books have won numerous awards, including the Anthony, Barry, Macavity, Martin Beck, and Arthur Ellis awards, among others.

About the Narrators

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received thirty-seven Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.

Susan Lyons has appeared on numerous television shows, including A Country Practice, Police Rescue, Something in the Air, and All Saints. Among her film credits are Winds of Jarrah and In a Savage Land. She is married to Tony Award–winning actor Jefferson Mays.