Sunday, February 28, 2021

John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer


John Christie of Rillington Place is an annotated and comprehensive look at the facts and investigations surrounding the crimes in and around 10 Rillington Place in the 40s and 50s written and presented by Dr. Jonathan Oates. Originally published in 2012, this reformat and re-release due out 28th Feb 2021 from Pen & Sword is 224 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a meticulously researched and annotated history of the occupants of 10 Rillington Place and their fate as well as the fate of the perpetrator(s) of the crimes which occurred there. It's presented in roughly chronological order starting with the family history of John Christie, through his early years, education, brushes with the law, marriage, and crimes. The author has a measured and factual tone throughout which actually helped me maintain some objectivity whilst reading descriptions of otherwise horrific crimes that would have had me running away if they were more explicit. 

In addition to the meticulous research and writing, the book is comprehensively annotated with reference chapter notes and documents for further reading. There are also a number of historical photos and facsimiles reproduced from court and historical records which add depth and interest. 

I found the author's writing style academic and a bit dry, but I appreciated very much that in contrast to many (most) true-crime offerings, the book was not lurid at all, and I never felt that the author was sensationalising any aspect of the history or the sad stories of the perpetrator(s) and victims. 

The facts of the crimes are such that there is discussion of psychosocial and sexual dysfunction and illness, but there is no direct description or discussion which were inappropriate or gruesome (thankfully).

Four stars. Recommended for readers of history, local history, aberrant psychology, and allied subjects; readers of lurid explicit true-crime might not find much here which is titillating.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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