Fell the Angels by John Kerr

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Fell the Angels by John Kerr

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A very readable reworking of the Charles and Florence Bravo case - the Priory Murder - along with an elegant solution.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Robert Hale
ISBN: 978-0709098386

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Cecilia had had more surnames than was usual for a young woman in the late nineteenth century. She was born Henderson but married Robert Castello and quickly came to realise that he was an adulterer with a drink problem. A woman's place was thought to be with her husband - even by Cecilia's wealthy parents - but they recognised that forcing her to go back to him could be problematical. As a compromise she was sent to Malvern to take a water cure and it was there that she came into contact with Dr James Gully. He was a good deal older than Cecilia but a relationship developed between the two - affection on Cecilia's part (probably the most of which she was capable) and love on his.

Unfortunately the affair was made public and Cecilia's reputation was ruined. Even her parents would have nothing to do with her. But Cecilia was now a widow and a wealthy one at that. The way to reinstate her reputation was through marriage to a respectable man - but if she had problems with Robert Castello they were nothing to what she would have to endure with Charles Cranbrook. Four months into the marriage he would be dead from poisoning, but was it suicide, murder or a dreadful accident?

It is, of course, a reworking of the Charles Bravo case which set Victorian London alight but which was never resolved. No one was ever charged over the death and Bravo's widow echoed the death of her first husband and died of alcohol poisoning at an early age. John Kerr's retelling of the story concentrates on Cecilia's life before the death of her second husband (we're some two thirds of the way through the book before Cranbrook dies) before suggesting an elegant solution to the case. It's entirely plausible that it did happen this way although one piece of evidence was a little too convenient for my liking.

It's a good story - whether or not you know anything of the original - and Kerr has a wealth of knowledge about Victorian London and particularly what were then the outlying villages. It's easy reading and great fun to see whether or not you agree with the denouement. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. We also have a review of Hurricane Hole by John Kerr.

If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams and Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry. You might enjoy Roxy by Esther Gerritsen and Michele Hutchison (translator) but we had our reservations.

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Buy Fell the Angels by John Kerr at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fell the Angels by John Kerr at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Fell the Angels by John Kerr at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fell the Angels by John Kerr at Amazon.com.


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