Customer Review

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars News from the Archives (Again!), 1 Nov 2012
This review is from: John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer (Hardcover)
This book reads like a report from the archives, but is actually very badly written with staccato sentences and no attempt to create atmosphere. It is drenched with 'facts' but little attempt to set them in context or make them interesting. Even writers of non-fiction have to have some of the qualities of a novelist, but this author makes no attempt to engage the reader and seemes to assume previous unsated interest. This is a very old case about which many books have been written, and much of the material in this book had been published before. The lesson is that being industrial in the archives is not enough to make a good writer and Wharncliffe should be commissioning talented journalists to write books like this, but then again they probably don't pay enough.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Dec 2012 15:54:33 GMT
Junius says:
When I read this, I was uncertain if the second half was meant as satire. The book states that this is a decades old case (in the introduction and on the jacket) and also that many books have been written on the subject - the same could be said about Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill or the battle of Waterloo and many other topics in history. 'Much has been published before' - yes, but much has not. The problem with journalists writing books, a generalisation, I know, is that they often don't want to spend time going through manuscripts and other sources, which is often a slow and tedious business. Yet to gain fresh insights into anything, that is precisely what historians have to do, as here.

Posted on 22 Dec 2012 15:54:57 GMT
Junius says:
When I read this, I was uncertain if the second half was meant as satire. The book states that this is a decades old case (in the introduction and on the jacket) and also that many books have been written on the subject - the same could be said about Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill or the battle of Waterloo and many other topics in history. 'Much has been published before' - yes, but much has not. The problem with journalists writing books, a generalisation, I know, is that they often don't want to spend time going through manuscripts and other sources, which is often a slow and tedious business. Yet to gain fresh insights into anything, that is precisely what historians have to do, as here.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012 18:34:14 GMT
J. C. Stone says:
IS it not you that produced this book Junius.? !!

Posted on 30 Dec 2012 18:38:52 GMT
J. C. Stone says:
Its not meant to be a the story re created in book form, just the hard facts. I would say the cover clearly indicates that. Having said that, like you say, you still need to keep the reader interested throughout, within an understandable structure.

Posted on 31 Dec 2012 15:54:29 GMT
Acton Town says:
This is a well researched and informative book. It does much to debunk half-baked myths about Christie and Evans. It is elegantly and engagingly written and strikes the right balance between factual analysis and commentary.
I found the early chapters particularly interesting. They give a fascinating insight into Christie's gradual descent from a petty criminal to a serial murderer.
I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to gain new insights into the crimes of Christie and Evans. Dr Oates has produced a work of scholarship and distinction.
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