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on 15 February 2014
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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on 14 April 2014
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...”

If this weren’t enough the author goes on to contradict the testimony of Inspector Black who said at the trial that Evans was told exactly where and how the corpses had been hidden. Oates says: “.....but in this he was wrong as the statement read to Evans does not give such details.” Well according to Ludovic Kennedy’s version, the statement read to Evans gives precisely those details. Marston agrees. Why the Oates’s version omits these crucial details I do not know.

Another plank in Mr Oates’s case against Evans is that Christie’s wife and the workmen heard no screams from the top floor while Christie was supposedly busy murdering Beryl Evans up there. Well, in 1953 Christie strangled four women in his ground floor flat and nobody in the many separately-rented rooms above heard or suspected a thing.

The film “10 Rillington Place” is drawn over the coals citing inaccuracies. This was a film. A dramatic reconstruction never intended to be a wholly factual documentary. I don’t suppose that Liz Taylor resembled Cleopatra. Nor would I expect her to.

In summary this book does flesh out the main characters in this sordid drama as never before. It has not changed my opinion that Evans was innocent. Unfortunately the book is marred by sloppy logic which should have been eliminated at the editing stage.
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on 21 August 2016
I have read almost everything published about Reginald Christie - no idea why I find the case compelling but might be something to do with the fact my grandparents lived right next door to the last man sentenced to be hanged for murder , which was commuted to life ( 12 years in his case) because the death sentence was repealed .
I have never believed in Evans innocence - I think anyone who watches 10 Rillington Place ( which is a brilliantly acted movie but factually flawed) would have had a lot of sympathy for Evans but that was Ludovic Kennedy's purpose - to make Evans appear innocent - I think Evans killed his wife and that Christie killed the child , Geraldine - I think that although Evans had no idea of Christies " history" , Christie could not afford any police probe into his situation as he had two skeletons in the back garden so he persuaded Evans to leave the scene of the crime before the pair if them hid her body in the wash house - I believe that the killing of Geraldine was probably down to Christie . Evans made several statements but the truth was, he killed his own wife , he knew exactly where her body was - he made the statement to the police to that effect when he was in Wales . Evans was not a serial killer , the killing of Beryl was probably done in a fit of anger whereas Christies methods were pre- meditated . It is probably right that Evans was pardoned for Geraldine's murder , but that pardon did not exonerate him from the murder of Beryl .
This book has only strengthened the opinion I have long held - Evans was a murderer " by accident" , Christie was a psychopath and serial murderer - unlike many people, I don't find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that one tiny, decrepit house in the insalubrious area of Notting Hill Gate could house two murderers simultaneously in 1950's London . Christie covered his tracks - Evans just wasnt clever enough , and, he had what Christie never possessed - a conscience about what he had done . His attempts to blame Christie were just futile attempts to save his own skin at the final reckoning - the knowledge that Christie had killed Geraldine meant he had no qualms about trying to pin Beryl's death on him too - by that time, Evans had nothing to lose .
Evans and Christie always referred to Geraldine as " the child" or " it never stopped crying" - to both of them, I think Geraldine was just an "it" , not a human being at all , just a " thing" - no parent refers to their child as an " it" or " the child" in the way Evans did repeatedly in his statements ; it would be my daughter or our daughter or Geraldine - I don't think Evans gave much thought to his child or her fate when he fled Rillington Place - I think its why he showed little reaction when he was informed that " it" was dead .
Case closed - thank you Mr Oates .
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on 16 January 2014
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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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.
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on 4 December 2015
It held my interest with some good descriptive passages and fresh background mayerial but I was increasingly annoyed as his mask of impartiality slipped. The author was very selective in the information he put before readers, and had an obvious Evans Was Guilty bias.
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on 24 April 2016
I am too young to remember this case but can remember the late Ludovic Kennedy's book on this: Jonathan Oates reaches a different conclusion. As the case happened over 60 years ago we will probably never know the whole truth. Oates has dug out a great deal on Christie's background, including his immediate family,
Well researched and a good read.

Mike
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on 16 June 2014
I have long been hooked mon the film ten Rillington Place, and the fact that the events there took place relatively recently.

This book addressed the events in an interesting way, but I think the author was a little too dismissive of previous accounts,which detracted from my enjoyment, and made me mark it down a bit
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on 22 October 2014
a compelling read , having seen the film some years ago , a story which caught my imagination then , it's great to see someone has taken the time and effort to put this book together , piece by piece of history .
not easy when the main characters in a true story , are no longer around to give their version of events .
a wonderful piece of narrative and historical data .
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on 5 May 2016
Well written but a grisly subject. A very dark true story. Anyone you enjoys reading about true crime will enjoy this. It was a story that shocked post war Britain and Christie managed to manipulate and fool everyone including the British justice system.
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