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Death at the Priory

Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England
Narrated by: Alistair Petrie
Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (104 ratings)

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Summary

It took three tortured days in 1876 for Charles Bravo to die from the poison that burned its way through his body. The subsequent investigation revealed many people with a grudge against the young barrister. The dramatic inquest was covered in sensational detail by the press, but no one was convicted of his murder. Over a century later, James Ruddick draws on new evidence to solve one of the most famous murders in criminal history.
©2009 James Ruddick (P)2009 Oakhill Publishing Ltd

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helen
  • FLEET, HAMPSHIRE, United Kingdom
  • 08-01-10

A really compelling listen

This is a really interesting audiobook about a true life case of a Victorian poisoning. It's a classic "whodunnit", and the author clearly presents the evidence in an engaging way that leaves you guessing until the end. This is light enough not to require too much of your attention, but riveting enough to keep you listening until the end. A great listen for while you are driving around in the car - I kept finding excuses to put it on so that I could find out what happened! Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I listened to this in one sitting. It was fascinating. The reader is superb and the writing too! I urge you to try it if you enjoy a crime story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeanette
  • Barnsley, United Kingdom
  • 18-04-10

Suspicious Death Investigated

This is an excellent book, which compares well with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, placing it in a similar social context, of police officers being unable to do their work fully because of power structures within society. It is, like Summerscale's text, about identified people, where there are very long standing repercussions across time and place, where effects are fully recognised. Murder is often trivialised: not in this book. It is read with careful tone, not dramatised, with attention to meaning, I really enjoyed this audio book, and can highly recommend it those interested in social history, as well as true crime accounts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Denise
  • ASHFORD, United Kingdom
  • 23-01-15

Gripping

I will listen to this again as it was so good. Well read, well written, well researched. An intriguing in site into Victorian life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Good Read

I really enjoyed this a good story and good narration. Very often reviewing of "evidence" with true stories of this type both so long after the events and from a more current mindset I find myself thinking the analysis is not always explained very well and is often flawed in some way. James Ruddick does very well in explaining how he approaches his subject and does so from predominantly from his knowledge of attitudes of the time ... in other words from what what iknown then as opposed to what we know now. I liked that.



Alistair Petrie is very easy on the ear and I enjoyed his narration style nothing there to irritate a very picky listener :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't miss this fascinating true storey

Of all the books I have listened to, this is, without doubt, one of the best. A true storey, excellently narrated by James Ruddick, who's voice has all the necessary levels and precise diction to hold your attention. The storey keeps you guessing until the very end. So good in fact, I will most probably listen again. Don't miss it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Denise
  • Egerton, United Kingdom
  • 13-12-11

Brilliant!

Factual, historical, gripping and informative. I loved every minute of it. Beautifully read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Passion, parsimony and poison...

This is a brilliant audiobook. It's gripping from start to finish. It tells the true story of the hideous drawn-out death of Barrister at Law Charles Bravo whose intestines were literally melted by antimony poisoning. The culprit was never identified, but it is not hard to see why his passionate, headstrong young wife wished to be rid of him. Their torturous union certainly wasn't a match made in heaven and in the moral climate of Victorian Britain, women (even wealthy ones) were treated as second class citizens. Mrs Bravo was rich and beautiful but irrevocably tainted by a (geriatric) sex scandal - hence the hasty, ill fated union with a cold-blooded control freak who clearly married her to elevate his social standing and get his grasping mitts on her money. One can't help wondering whether her first husband's untimely death was due to alcoholism, but as with all the best domestic murder mysteries - we shall never know...

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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting

This is a very well written true-crime book. I liked that it’s written in parts, first detailing the known facts, then what the authors additional research found and finally putting them together for the reveal of how things the deed was done. The final chapter explains what happened to the protagonists and their families after which was a nice touch too. Petrie’s narration is clear and paced to let you think and absorb the information.

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Wow I Was So Hooked!

This is an amazing true story and there is so many thoughts and theory's of what happened, it was truly interesting. I love the way it was presented, it left you wanting to know what happens next and who did what and why. If I could have listened to it all in one sitting I would have and after it finished I looked for more victorian true crime books.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary Berry
  • 06-12-09

Good story but ...

The underlying story behind Death at the Priory has everything that a good mystery needs -- sex, love, and murder. The first part of this book definitely draws you in. However, toward the middle to end, the focus shifts from the story of the murder to a first person account of the author's investigation and details about how he ultimately "solved" the murder! It ruined the whole book for me, and the author comes off sounding quite pompous! It is as if the book is no longer about the intriguing murder, but suddenly about the author! Particularly if you are a fan of these sorts of books and may have listened to The Suspicions of Mr. Wicher first, this book will disappoint.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • John S.
  • 24-10-09

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 interesting than the print book; the narrator conveys the author's enthusiasm well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Annette
  • 03-03-14

Worth purchasing and reading again

I had bought this title as a physical book years ago and had enjoyed it tremendously. I did not hesitate to purchase it again when I noticed it being available as an audio book here. I had the added pleasure this time to savor it on another level: Mr. Alistair Petrie's performance. It was a lovely experience and I will no doubt recommend it to others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-03-12

Intriguing true crime story

This story, about a murder that occurred in England more than 100 years ago, was well told and interesting. The author reviewed the case material from the original investigation and then looked for additional information related to the families involved and their descendants. The case had been investigated by Scotland Yard and written about by such crime-writing stars as Agatha Christie. James Ruddick presents a credible case for his "choice" of murderer.

I selected this title because my book club had decided to read it. I'm glad they did! As a lover of good detective fiction, this one met my expectations for being both a good story and a well-written narrative. And the bonus: it wasn't fiction!

The narrator did a fine job with the audio book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cris
  • 25-05-18

Very Engaging!!!

Well researched, intriguing mystery! Though it was a sad story and I felt really bad for all involved, it was very interesting and really well laid out. The author gave thorough but not tedious histories of the key people involved. I really felt for all of them as in the end, they were all victims. I do agree with the author’s conclusions but appreciated how he laid out evidence for and against. The narrator was phenomenal. Highly recommend for anyone interested in this genre.

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  • MargfromTassie
  • 26-04-15

Fantastic true story read by fantastic narrator

I just loved this book. As with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, this true story (of the murder of a husband by his wife,) is set in late Victorian England. Although both books are very good reads, this is the better of the two. It's more succinct and to the point. The story is riveting and holds your attention. You feel you are right there with the principal players, especially Florence Bravo. It provides great insight into the social hierarchy, expectations surrounding marriage and the role and rights of women at the time. I have selected this book as the one for my next Bookclub, and it is one which women, in particular, will find most interesting.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris
  • 18-05-09

Good fun

Death, adultry and the sex lives of the victorians - wicked fun.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary
  • 28-04-09

Death at the Priory - 04/28/09

This was a wonderful non-fiction murder mystery. Great book to take along when you are going on a long walk.