The death of Charles Bravo was long known as “the prize puzzle of British criminal jurisprudence.” Why this domestic tragedy so captured public attention becomes evident in Yseult Bridges’s vivid reconstruction of the case, How Charles Bravo Died: The Chronicle of a Cause Celebre (1959).
Four months after he married a beautiful and rich woman, Charles Bravo was heard calling for help from his bedroom. The doctors who were summoned declared that he had ingested a fatal dose of poison. Charles Bravo’s widow came with a past, and her companion was hardly a truthful person. During the long hours that preceded his death, he was “in full possession of his faculties,” yet he did not respond to entreaties concerning who might have administered the poison and how it entered his body. Was it then, suicide, rather than murder? Two inquests were held, the second lasting twenty-three days. The jury returned a verdict of “Willful Murder,” adding that “there was not sufficient evidence to fix the guilt on any person or persons.”
The author spent a year and a half intensively studying the case and agrees with the conclusions of a great judge, Sir Arthur Channell, as set forth in a private letter by him. You may well reach a different conclusion, and you may differ with the jury as well, but you are almost certain to be intrigued by this unusual case.