Death at the Priory by James Ruddick

Death at the Priory

In 1875 the beautiful widow Florence Ricardo married the handsome and successful young attorney Charles Bravo, hoping to escape the scandals of her past. But Bravo proved to be a brutal and conniving man, and the marriage was far from happy. Then one night he suddenly collapsed, and three days later died an agonizing death. His doctors immediately determined that he had been poisoned. The graphic and sensational details of the case would capture ...

Details Death at the Priory

TitleDeath at the Priory
Release DateNov 27th, 2002
PublisherGrove Press
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, History, Mystery, Historical, Victorian, European Literature, British Literature, Biography, Literature, 19th Century

Reviews Death at the Priory

  • Beverly
    At about 200 pages this a quick read and is written well. If you like true crime, closed -door mysteries, especially ones set in Victorian England that have never been solved then this is for you. The writer believes he has solved it and I believe it too. He did a tremendous amount of research and traveled all over the world to get it. A tenacious and dogged exploration into, not just the murder, but the subservient role of women in a society tha...
  • Hannah
    Rating Clarification: 4.5 StarsI haven't been this invigorated by a good ole "husband behaving badly" book since I read Wedlock The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore. If Andrew Stoney was the crowned winner for the "Mr. Shitty Husband of the 18th Century" contest for his sociopathic antics documented in "Wedlock", then the heir apparent for the 19th century must surely pass ...
  • Shovelmonkey1
    At first glance you might pick this up and think "ooh some kind of slightly sordid Nun/Vicar love tryst in buttoned up Victorian England which ultimately ends in murder most horrid."Er, nope sorry you're wrong. This is the coldest of all the Cold Case files well, unless you count those people on National Geographic who are always trying to figure out if certain Egyptian Mummies were murdered and or were related to Tutankhamun but you should proba...
  • Nina
    This book is a must for anyone who enjoys true crime and period books. It is set in the Victorian era, which makes it even more scandalous considering how stringent the rules of decorum were back then. I picked this book up randomly when I was going through a true crime reading phase. I could not put it down! How interesting it is to peek into the lives of this mysterious and scandalous murder from over 100 years ago. Amazing that this mystery is...
  • Nancy Oakes
    To be very honest, I first came across Florence Bravo, wife of murdered Charles Bravo, in the book by Mary S. Hartman called Victorian Murderesses so I had no idea what this book was going to be about before I picked it up and started reading. I have this thing about British murder cases past and present, so this one was right up my alley, offering an inside look into a Victorian home, family & society. It seems that Mr. Charles Bravo was poisone...
  • Amy Sturgis
    This is a study of the unsolved murder (by poisoning with antimony) of Charles Bravo (1845-1876), a young British barrister. The first half of the book recounts the story of Bravo's wife, her somewhat scandalous life before their marriage, and Bravo's own (mis)behavior until his death. The second half follows the author's new research and attempt to solve the murder (which is, for the most part, largely convincing). Ruddick should be applauded fo...
  • Karyl
    An interesting look at an unsolved murder mystery in Victorian England. Florence Bravo, after suffering through an abusive first marriage, finds herself married to yet another abuser who insisted on forcing himself on her to produce an heir, even though she had miscarried two babies in a short span of time. But within five months of their wedding day, Charles Bravo collapsed and dies as a result of antimony poisoning. Who has administered the fin...
  • Fishface
    This is yet another book on the Balham Mystery, but it's an unusually good, readable one. The author examines all the evidence in the Bravo case -- including a great deal of information not covered at the inquest -- and interprets it in a pretty convincing way, with great compassion for not only the victim, but the suspects. This remains true even even when he is pointing the finger at one of them and saying "murderer!" The writing is very good a...
  • Sarah
    This is an interesting read of an old, unsolved murder mystery that took place in the 1870's. The author presents his argument about what actually happened, which was sometimes contrived, but I enjoyed the picture of Victorian life. A fairly quick and easy read.
  • Cleo Bannister
    Poison was a familiar murder weapon in Victorian England with many a tale abounding of arsenic used to gain a fortune, do away with a rival or an inconvenient spouse.In this book James Ruddick believes he has uncovered the real truth of the perpetrator of Charles Bravo’s death by poison in 1876. Charles Bravo was a rich man who suffered an agonising death spread over three days. Poison was the culprit and the inquest into his death lasted a len...
  • Terry
    The fatal poisoning of Charles Bravo in 1876 remains a great, unsolved mystery. As James Ruddick shows in this engrossing account, there was no shortage of suspects. Among them were Bravo's wife, Florence, who married the young barrister in part to erase the taint of a recent sexual scandal; Jane Cox, a servant caught spinning a web of lies about what happened the night Bravo died; and James Gully, an esteemed doctor who was also once Florence's ...
  • Pat
    This was quite a sensational murder in the late 1800s and no one was ever convicted of the murder though there was a lot of suspicion of both the wife, her ex-lover and her companion. This is also an example of a woman (the wife) being pilloried by Victorian society because she lived a non-conventional life (not quite a feminist, but definitely a free spirit in regard to her relationships) that everyone found out about as a result of the murder. ...
  • Chana
    Well- researched, well written and more entertaining than a game of Clue! On April 18, 1876 someone gave James Bravo a fatal dose of antimony. Was it the housekeeper, the stableman, the wife, the wife's ex-lover, or Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the billiards room? Or perhaps even Charles himself? The case is true, the characters tragic, the coincidences fabulous. I mean, "Bravo, Gully!"? The mind just boggles. A recommended read.
  • Tyler
    Great slice of Victorian England focused on what is like to be a woman during the time. Kind of amazing protagonist and story. Agatha Christie couldn't figure it out? That actually doesn't surprise me.
  • Taron
    Fascinating! Not only the true crime element but insights into life in Victorian London. Especially as it all happened in my neighbourhood. (It is rather a sad story though.)
  • Learnin Curve
    Red cover with painting of Florence in front. Teeny tiny text for ants - 1 star for that on a rather mediocre drawn out short story.
  • Mary
    In December of 1875, the beautiful widow Florence Ricardo married a handsome and influential young attorney named Charles Bravo. The dissolution of Florence's first marriage as well as the revelation of her affair with prominent doctor James Gully, had led to her becoming a social pariah. However, her marriage to Charles Bravo was Florence's way of escaping the scandals of her past; and she fervently hoped that such a marriage would reopen certai...
  • Talulah Mankiller
    In 1876, a young lawyer named Charles Bravo died of antimony poisoning. His wife, her companion, and her former lover were all suspected of having had a role in his death, but no one was ever convicted. Ruddick presents compelling evidence that Florence Bravo, the victim’s wife, was in fact the killer–and he does so in a way that doesn’t make me want to kick his ass! Because he takes simple, bare facts and presents them without embroidery a...
  • Bill reilly
    This fairytale begins with the marriage of the headstrong Florence Campbell to a career military man, Alexander Ricardo. Flo convinced Al to give up his uniform and stay at home for a life of gentility. Boredom with his wife’s itinerary caused Ricardo to drink excessively and smack his wife around a bit. This was 1868, when wives were considered property of their husbands. She left Al to live to live at a health resort run by a Dr. James Gully....
  • Jill Hutchinson
    This book is about the coldest of cold cases....the murder of Charles Bravo in 1876 in England. Nobody was ever charged although there were many suspects, including his wife, since Mr. Bravo was not very loveable. The poison antimony was used to kill him which may cause even worse suffering than arsenic and poison was a woman's method of murder in those Victorian days. The book is divided into two parts: first, the actual murder and subsequent he...
  • Ngaio
    This was a fun, quick read. Ruddick neatly summarizes a complex murder case from the 1800s. I had never heard of it before picking up this book, but found it fascinating that a real case played out a bit like a game of clue with a variety of people having access and motive. The Victorian social dynamics also made for an interesting study. Naturally a case from so long ago, with all its principal characters dead, cannot be conclusively solved give...
  • Janellyn51
    This was interesting and a quick read...boy, those Victorian ladies didn't have a whole lot of options. I've never thought of myself as a feminist, but I think I would have become one if I lived then! Interestingly....I found it very difficult to like Florence...and I didn't like Florence Maybrick who I don't believe murdered her husband, but would have had just as many reasons as this Florence...if in fact this Florence did it! Who in thier righ...
  • Simon Thompson
    Feb 2014This book has been hanging about on the "to-do" pile for years now. I don't know what made me choose it but I'm glad I did. I'd heard about the celebrated Charles Bravo murder of 1876 but never knew the full story. Apparently a whole whodunnit industry sprung up shortly after and public attention remained active for many decades.The author, James Ruddick, does a great job of setting the scene, explaining the social mores of Victorian Brit...
  • MountainShelby
    I devoured this book in one day. It's so delightfully sordid (in true underground Victorian style) and suspenseful, and yet it clearly communicates the plight of Victorian women. The social commentary is convincing without being heavy handed. I started reading last night, woke at 330 a.m. to read more, and pushed almost everything aside in my full schedule to complete the book in one day. For me, the plausibility of the author's theory is almost ...
  • John
    A feminist book by a man - who knew!The story of this century-old unsolved murder serves a framework (jumping off point) for an examination of the status (or lack thereof) of British Victorian women, though members of that sex elsewhere weren't faring all that much better. Ruddick has managed to put his extensive research together as an interesting conjecture as to how Charles Bravo met his end. I suspect the audio version might prove more intere...
  • David Bales
    A rather riveting account of an infamous poisoning in Victorian England that was never officially solved involving famous families, infidelity and the difficulty of women to find justice in society. James Ruddick traveled all over England and to Jamaica and New Zealand to research and come up with the most plausible scenario for the murder of Charles Bravo in 1876.
  • Jo
    The author reinvestigates a Victorian murder mystery and offers a solution as to the identity of the murderer. Fascinating insight into the period and the the lives of the principal players in the story. It's not a case I'd heard of before but it sounds like it caused quite a sensation at the time.
  • Jen
    Plausible solution, but who knows if the author's explanation is what happened or if the crime ever really will be solved.
  • Sandra D
    The author's self-congratulatory tone in describing his solution to this mystery was a jarring note in what was otherwise a quick, enjoyable read.
  • Rachael
    The author wrote like a pompous ass. Ambiguity was fact when it fit his story, but hearsay or dubious when it didn't.