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More questions than answers
on 13 May 2015
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.
One other criticism : I objected to Oates describing one of Christie's later murder victims as " the lowest of the low ". She was a young homeless girl with no support network in an era when prostitution was often the only option available for a disadvantaged working class girl. Surely it is Christie who is more deserving of that epitaph.