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John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer Hardcover – 18 Oct 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wharncliffe Books; First Edition First Impression edition (18 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845631412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845631413
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and he has written and lectured on aspects of London's local history and criminal past, in particular on the Christie case. His books include several volumes in the Foul Deeds series and a trilogy on unsolved London murders. He is also an authority on the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 and published Sweet William or The Butcher? The Duke of Cumberland and the '45. His most recent books are Tracing Your London Ancestors and Tracing Your Ancestors From 1066 to 1837.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has obviuosly carried out a lot of research on the main characters in this sordid tale, but presents it in the style of a factual report and icludes a lot of extraneous detail, which adds nothing to the story. From the additional quotations from witnesses and newspaper reports you can get some idea of the background to the crimes and what life was like during and after the war, but the book would have benefitted from more description to put it into context. I wasn't convinced by the author's case against Timothy Evans - eg why did he return to Rillington Place after the murders?- and I don't think we are any closer to finding out the truth of what happened. This could have been a much more interesting book with a bit more imagination and some rigorous editing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had already read the Kennedy and Marston books about this case. This new book by Dr Oates adds much new biographical detail to the life stories of the main characters and victims.

The book contains quite a bit of nit-picking and finger-pointing regarding the supposed sins and omissions of previous writers so I feel free to so indulge myself here relative to Dr Oates’s book. Seriously, it is crucial that everything recorded as fact in a book of this kind stands up to examination.

The author would have us believe that Evans knew, without being told, how the bodies of Beryl and Geraldine were concealed. “Only the killer would know this...” He quotes Chief Inspector Jennings reading a statement to Evans: “ I am C I Jennings in charge of this case. At 11.50 am today I found the dead body of your wife Beryl Evans concealed in a wash house at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, also the body of your baby daughter Geraldine in the same outbuilding and this clothing was found on them. etc. etc.”
Ludovic Kennedy gives the same statement but with a crucial difference: the Kennedy version is “...also the body of your baby daughter Geraldine concealed behind some timber.......” This is critical because if the Kennedy version is correct it means Evans was told how and where the bodies were concealed. Why is the Oates version different?

Oates states that at Evans’s trial the two policemen Black and jennings said they did not tell Evans how his wife and child were killed. But once again (from Kennedy) Inspector jennings continues the above statement to Evans by saying: ‘.........Later today I was at Kensington Mortuary where it was established that the cause of death was strangulation in both cases...
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Format: Paperback
Jonathan Oates makes what should be a simple subject into a difficult read. He dots about with the story's timeline and repeats himself many times. He also refers to the St. John Ambulance Service as the St. John's (that's just a minor thing though). On Page 76 Oates himself gets confused between the defence and the prosecution.

The author takes it as fact that Evans was not informed that Geraldine had been strangled with a tie. I believe Evans had already been told of this by PC Black, although the police say he hadn't been told. Well they would wouldn't they? - the police were determined to get a full confession out of Evans.

The author states that nobody heard Beryl cry out at the time of her murder. The book states that Beryl was stranged from behind so she wouldn't have known what was happening until the cord was around her neck - too late to cry out. The same with the baby Geraldine. The author states that Ethel was in the house and did not hear the baby cry (at the time when it was murdered). Well the baby was known to cry a lot anyway.

I believe Evans' last statement was the truthful one because it makes a lot more sense than his prior confessions. Evans was a bully but I don't believe he had the mindset to murder his own baby daughter. Christie killed Beryl for the same reasons he killed his other victims - lust. He then killed Geraldine to get her out of the way and to stop her crying and drawing attention to the fact her mother had gone.

Are we to believe that Christie knew nothing of the bodies concealed within the wash house? Christie, it has been said, knew everything that went on within that house.

And the massive coincidence remains - Jonathan Oates wishes us to believe that two stranglers lived in the same tiny house at 10 Rillington Place at the same time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author obviously did a lot of research in to Christie's background and that of his victims using source material, and even going so far as to study electorial rolls to establish who was living where and when. Not only was this a great bit of detective work but it also vividly brought to life the backdrop of the murders, the seediness of Nottinghill Gate multiple lets in the post war era leading up to the emergence of Rachman. An evocative bit of London social history even if you're not interested in the murder case.

It was in the handling of the facts involved in the Beryl and Geraldine murders that the book fell short. The time line needed to be more clearly established, beginning with when the pathologist estimated the two victims had been murdered. Was Evans at home at the time ? Mention is made of him being at work, was this confirmed by his employers ? Also where was Mrs Christie during this timeframe was she out at work ?I can't remember any mention of what forensic evidence was discovered on the bodies. Evans seemed to have been whisked off to the hangman mainly for being as the father the most likely culprit ( this book interestingly points out he was only tried for the murder of his child and not his wife ).

Oates believes that Evans was guilty of the murder of his wife and child but does not give enough evidence in support. Certainly not enough to sentence the chap to capital punishment ( even if you're a supporter of it ) Where as Christie with his three dead women in his kitchen cupboard and two earlier ones buried in his garden already ? You can see Ludovic Kennedy's point !But then again Evan's behaviour after his wife and child's death was very odd ? An intriguing case.
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