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Julian Fellowes hosts this re-creation of the unsolved murder of Charles Bravo on April 18, 1876. Bravo is determined to have dies from poisoning, but just who was the killer? Bravo had been married for only five months to his new wife Florence but already it was not a happy marriage. She had wanted to keep control of her capital but Bravo threatened not to marry her and so she agreed to give him part of her fortune, as she was desperate to be accepted in society. He had also agreed to marry her even though he knew she had a long affair with Dr. James Gully and that he performed an abortion when she became pregnant. Soon after the marriage, he fired their equerry who vowed to get revenge. There is also Florence's companion, Mrs. Cox, who may have resented the treatment of her mistress. Then there is Gully himself, who very much loved Florence but was already married. Fellowes has his own views on what happened that night, presenting his conclusions on who committed the crime that ... Written by
Julian Fellowes, sometimes actor, sometimes writer, sometimes producer -- perhaps best known in the United States for writing and co-producing Altman's GOSFORD PARK -- takes a look at a scandalous murder of a century and a quarter ago and offers his own conclusions.
The whole thing is produced in a dry reconstructive manner. Fellowes gives us the facts as they were offered under testimony but, although very cleverly analyzed and well-produced in an almost DRAGNET-like, just-the-facts manner, it feels empty. The whole story around Bravo's murder leaves me with a feeling that this is not about the death of a man, but a mere puzzle in logic, like a Golden Age murder mystery in which the book was written before the author decided who had done the killing -- and then had gone in to insert the clues. I am left with great admiration for the effort -- but not much interest or pleasure.
If that is your taste in murder mysteries -- and there are many to whom that is the point -- then this should be just your meat. It is not, alas, mine.
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