Before the Poison by Peter Robinson.
A review by Marlyn Beebe.
Having completed the purchase well before he returns to England, Lowndes is unsure what to expect when he arrives at the house late one October afternoon. He certainly doesn't expect to learn that the wife of the original owner, a physician named Ernest Fox, had been convicted of murdering him.
Out of curiosity, Lowndes begins to research the history of the house and it's early inhabitants. The more he learns about Grace Fox and her family, the more he becomes convinced that she was not guilty of the crime. Although he knows better than to tell anyone, he thinks he catches glimpses of her around the house. People begin to accuse him of being obsessed with Grace and her story, and it certainly appears that way, though Chris believes that all he's trying to do is uncover the truth.
Throughout Lowndes' search, the reader has the uncomfortable feeling that there is some underlying reason for his investigation. It's not expressed outright, but extremely subtle hints that this is the case permeate the narrative, very much in the vein of Rebecca,
In fact, as in Du Maurier's novel, although the narrative is in the first person from the protagonist's point of view, the central character of the story is a ghost whose history somehow becomes intertwined with that of the narrator.
As a devotee of Robinson's Inspector Banks, I was at first disappointed that Before the Poison was not part of that series. But this is such a well-written and well-told tale that the sadness was short-lived.