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John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer

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Sixty years ago, the discovery of bodies at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, London, led to one of the most sensational, shocking and controversial serial murder cases in British criminal history the case of John Christie. Much has been written about the Christie killings and the fate of Timothy Evans who was executed for murders Christie later confessed to the story s Sixty years ago, the discovery of bodies at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, London, led to one of the most sensational, shocking and controversial serial murder cases in British criminal history the case of John Christie. Much has been written about the Christie killings and the fate of Timothy Evans who was executed for murders Christie later confessed to the story still provokes strong feeling and speculation. However, most the books on the case have been compiled without the benefit of all the sources that are open to researchers, and they tend to focus on Evans in an attempt to clear him of guilt. In addition, many simply repeat what has been said before. Therefore, a painstaking, scholarly reassessment of the evidence - and of Christies life - is overdue, and that is what Jonathan Oates provides in this gripping biography of a serial killer.


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Sixty years ago, the discovery of bodies at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, London, led to one of the most sensational, shocking and controversial serial murder cases in British criminal history the case of John Christie. Much has been written about the Christie killings and the fate of Timothy Evans who was executed for murders Christie later confessed to the story s Sixty years ago, the discovery of bodies at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, London, led to one of the most sensational, shocking and controversial serial murder cases in British criminal history the case of John Christie. Much has been written about the Christie killings and the fate of Timothy Evans who was executed for murders Christie later confessed to the story still provokes strong feeling and speculation. However, most the books on the case have been compiled without the benefit of all the sources that are open to researchers, and they tend to focus on Evans in an attempt to clear him of guilt. In addition, many simply repeat what has been said before. Therefore, a painstaking, scholarly reassessment of the evidence - and of Christies life - is overdue, and that is what Jonathan Oates provides in this gripping biography of a serial killer.

30 review for John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    I love true crime and am familiar with this case which has always fascinated me. I found the writing style very hard to get into and enjoy. The author draws on actual testimony in trials, police interviews and other facts. Paints a picture of John Christie before he became a serial killer. Whilst the book has good content it just doesn’t flow. It reads more like a sort of novel in a way. Unlike other true crime books this just didn’t hook me and I really struggled persisting with it. It’s a shame I love true crime and am familiar with this case which has always fascinated me. I found the writing style very hard to get into and enjoy. The author draws on actual testimony in trials, police interviews and other facts. Paints a picture of John Christie before he became a serial killer. Whilst the book has good content it just doesn’t flow. It reads more like a sort of novel in a way. Unlike other true crime books this just didn’t hook me and I really struggled persisting with it. It’s a shame as good content is there and the author has done extensive research, however some of it lacked timeline clarity and seemed disjointed. It seemed the author had some bias towards Evans guilt also. Frustratingly, the writing style and the way it flowed when reading just didn’t work for me. It was a bumpy ride. Really disappointed. I’d hoped for a cracking read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All reviews are my own opinions and completely unbiased.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ant Koplowitz

    John Christie of Rillington Place by Jonathan Oates reminded me that I, along with most other members of the public know relatively little about Christie and the murders at that infamous terraced house in Notting Hill. This is a detailed and thorough re-examination of the evidence concerning the deaths of Beryl and Geraldine Evans et al, and the most likely parts played by Christie and Timothy Evans in the murderous drama that occurred during the 1940s and 50s. Like most other people I had been John Christie of Rillington Place by Jonathan Oates reminded me that I, along with most other members of the public know relatively little about Christie and the murders at that infamous terraced house in Notting Hill. This is a detailed and thorough re-examination of the evidence concerning the deaths of Beryl and Geraldine Evans et al, and the most likely parts played by Christie and Timothy Evans in the murderous drama that occurred during the 1940s and 50s. Like most other people I had been convinced by Ludovic Kennedy's 10 Rillington Place, and the excellent film adaptation of the book in the early 1970s, that Christie was the perpetrator of the murders. But what Oates does is dismantle the Kennedy theory, and demonstrate that it was but one perspective on what might have happened. For example, I didn't know that although Evans was posthumously pardoned for killing his daughter, there remains very strong circumstantial evidence pointing to him as the murderer of his wife. Oates writes a in precise and detailed manner and systematically analyses all the known sources, as well as re-examining the numerous (often inaccurate) works regarding these cases. The book challenges the well-embedded theories that Evans was a simple, unwilling victim, who killed nobody and was executed as a result of one of the worse miscarriages of justice in the twentieth century. It's a salutary lesson in using the facts and evidence, as opposed to a never-questioning belief in powerful propaganda. There are no clear answers, no grandiose final solution to the seventy year old mystery, and no startling revelations, just a forensic re-assessment of the known (and previously forgotten and unknown facts). Oates does a workmanlike job in bringing new slants to the horrors of Rillington Place, although the prose was a bit clunky in places and I got fed up with his misuse of the word 'ironically'. But these are minor quibbles in an otherwise excellent read. © Koplowitz 2015

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cleopatra Pullen

    The author of John Christie of Rillington Place has obviously carried out his research into the life of 'Reg' Christie of 10 Rillington Place. This is to be highly commended and arguably it is useful to have a factual book that extends beyond the big question i.e. was Evans guilty of murdering his wife Beryl, and his daughter Geraldine, or was it in fact Christie who committed these murders. The problem is as much as the author despises us all for concentrating on this episode, as an argument ag The author of John Christie of Rillington Place has obviously carried out his research into the life of 'Reg' Christie of 10 Rillington Place. This is to be highly commended and arguably it is useful to have a factual book that extends beyond the big question i.e. was Evans guilty of murdering his wife Beryl, and his daughter Geraldine, or was it in fact Christie who committed these murders. The problem is as much as the author despises us all for concentrating on this episode, as an argument against capital punishment it is a critical one. I have to say that whilst the content of the book was interesting, the tone was most off-putting with the author getting every more on his high horse regarding other writers and film-makers not faithfully sticking to the facts. This hectoring laughable descends into those writers of fiction such as Ruth Rendell for basing a novel around the case but using different characters. If this hadn't been right at the end, I think I would have given up reading entirely. In conclusion, I actually agree with the author's stance (up to a point) on the Evans/Christie issue but the author's personality ended up overshadowing the book, and not in a good way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David John Gray

    What a person Thank God we have removed the act of capital punishment this is that unfortunately we seem to drag up every so often it is a very gruesome story that never go away also this book is well written

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    First things first, this book is well researched and even the tiniest of reference sources is listed by the author - this gives it an automatic star. The inclusion of contemporaneous photographs is a nice touch and many of them have not been reproduced before - this gives it half a star. Unfortunately this means that the text itself, the actual reason the book was purchased only gets 1.5 stars. I was also surprised to note that this book only has 224 pages, it felt substantially longer than that First things first, this book is well researched and even the tiniest of reference sources is listed by the author - this gives it an automatic star. The inclusion of contemporaneous photographs is a nice touch and many of them have not been reproduced before - this gives it half a star. Unfortunately this means that the text itself, the actual reason the book was purchased only gets 1.5 stars. I was also surprised to note that this book only has 224 pages, it felt substantially longer than that and it was a challenge to get to the end without just giving up. The first problem I had with it was this is written like an academic book rather than one for mass consumption. I had no issue with the myriad footnotes as these relate to sources to support the information given. What I did take issue with was the constant referencing of dates (particularly birth and death dates), they break the text and prevent absorptive reading. There is no reason why a separate timeline appendix could not have been created to provide all this information and it would have made the textual flow much more digestible. I appreciate dates of particular events are necessary and I did not have issue with this but each and every member of Christie's family (and there are a lot of them) have their birth and death dates listed as do many of the witness accounts for his early life. Then there is the author's general tone throughout the book. What starts of as merely factual soon degenerates in to him mentioning other people who have written about the intertwined cases of Evans and Christie and stating that they have things oh so very wrong - usually because they have a date out by 24 hours. It quickly becomes a diatribe of "I'm right and they are wrong" and trying to separate the details of reality from the book becomes increasingly difficult - especially once the author brings Ludovic Kennedy and the film reconstruction based on his book in to play. I also found it very interesting that at no time does he mention Timothy Evans' mental incapacity. I was under the impression that it was fairly well documented that this was a man of relatively low IQ and whilst he does mention potential issues with literacy nothing else is made of it - except to say that he believes he could read perfectly well. For me, I think earlier accounts are more accurate regarding Mr Evans and that he was easily suggestible and fairly child like in his world view; thus making it easy for both Christie and the legal system to manipulate him in to a confession that he may or may not have believed. Interestingly despite all the deep research in to the lives of the victims and Christie, Evans is not paid the same courtesy (beyond his familial connections) and there are no contemporaneous recollections from work colleagues and friends which previous authors have used to show how child like he was. There is a very definite agenda from the author and this is not merely a recounting of the facts surrounding the case. Rather, it is the author's contention that two murderers lived under the same roof at the same time and that Evans should never have been pardoned. Couple that with the author's bias towards the acknowledged Christie victims as being "the lowest of the low" and his incessant need to prove himself superior to other biographers of the subject it soon becomes a quite turgid mess. Overall, well researched but heavily affected by personal bias.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. 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 o Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Oxley

    Continuing our theme of criminal biographies, ‘John Christie of Rillington Place’ by DR Jonathan Oatesis a fascinating insight into the mind and life of the 1950s London based serial killer, and one that is entertaining, macabre, and eerily familiar. This account of John Christie’s life is unlike any other book of the killer that we have read. Previous true crime books, films, and podcasts tend to concentrate on murders that Christie was never actually charged for and tend to focus largely on hi Continuing our theme of criminal biographies, ‘John Christie of Rillington Place’ by DR Jonathan Oatesis a fascinating insight into the mind and life of the 1950s London based serial killer, and one that is entertaining, macabre, and eerily familiar. This account of John Christie’s life is unlike any other book of the killer that we have read. Previous true crime books, films, and podcasts tend to concentrate on murders that Christie was never actually charged for and tend to focus largely on his murderous modus operandi. This book differs from others in giving an unbiased historical fact-based account of his life, before the murders. The book gives a factual insight into John Christie’s childhood, sporadic career choices, relationships with the opposite sex, and even his raging hypochondria, which I’d never read about before. Having previously read’ Inside 10 Rillington Place’ which is a familial account of Beryl Evan’s murder, I was convinced that John Christie had killed Beryl and her daughter, Geraldine. However, having read this book, I doubt this is the case now, and that is what makes a good true crime book. We all read, listen, and watch true crime content that is subjective or objective, dependent on the creator’s intention. It is rare then (bizarrely) to find content that gives biographical, or even autobiographical (The History Of A Drowning Boy by Dennis Nilsen ) insight into the mind of a serial killer, and this is a fine example of that rare true crime commodity. For those unfamiliar with the case of John Christie, I would avoid any other films, or books involved with the case and start with this one. It will give any true crime enthusiast good grounding to delve into the case further. Dr Jonathan Oates is a London historian and is academic, however, his narrative is accessible and easy to read. The writer presents the facts, timelines, relating characters, and case notes without sounding pretentious, and on that basis, we read it in a matter of days!

  8. 4 out of 5

    T Paradise

    I couldn't wait to dig into this one! I was unfamiliar with John Christie, so I was really looking forward to reading about a case I knew absolutely nothing about. Oates's account of Christie's life and crimes is comprehensive and meticulously researched, including information not contained in previous works on this Jekyll and Hyde of Rillington Place. It's important to note that this is a biography and not a work of true crime in the traditional sense. The facts of the crimes are present (less I couldn't wait to dig into this one! I was unfamiliar with John Christie, so I was really looking forward to reading about a case I knew absolutely nothing about. Oates's account of Christie's life and crimes is comprehensive and meticulously researched, including information not contained in previous works on this Jekyll and Hyde of Rillington Place. It's important to note that this is a biography and not a work of true crime in the traditional sense. The facts of the crimes are present (less the lurid details), but there is little discussion of the investigation into the crimes. Rather, Oates attempts to paint a portrait of the man himself - his unassuming (if somewhat odd) public persona and the murderous, seemingly indifferent alter ego who was thrilled at having "embarked on the career [he] had chosen for [himself], the career of murder." Oates also addresses the controversy surrounding Christie's involvement in the deaths of two people, for which another man was convicted and ultimately hanged. The interview materials following Christie's arrest and conviction, the murderer in his own words, make for some of the most interesting reading in the book. Oates concludes with a discussion of various other accounts of Christie's exploits, including print and film versions detailing the events at Rillington Place. As a bookseller, I believe the intense detail and presentation of this work make it a niche read within the true crime genre. While some hard core enthusiasts will enjoy this, it may not appeal to the average consumer of true crime reads.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Jones

    I was sent a free ebook copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review I didn’t finish this book. I got to around 35% and was too bored to go any further. I thought it would be an interesting read based on what I know of the case, but the way this is written is incredibly unengaging. The first few chapters outline the life of Christie, his wife then later on the Evans’. These segments are so longwinded - is it really necessary to tell us about their grandfathers? It has no bearing I was sent a free ebook copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review I didn’t finish this book. I got to around 35% and was too bored to go any further. I thought it would be an interesting read based on what I know of the case, but the way this is written is incredibly unengaging. The first few chapters outline the life of Christie, his wife then later on the Evans’. These segments are so longwinded - is it really necessary to tell us about their grandfathers? It has no bearing on the murders. The writing style also makes this into almost a list of people and places, which in turn makes it hard to follow. Some of the ‘analysis’ given is also inappropriate. There is much made of Christie signing up to serve in WW1 instead of waiting to be enlisted - why did he do that? I imagine, like many others, he wanted to do his bit in the war and felt it might be an adventure. The tone of this and everything mentioned in relation to Christie is presented as if it gives us some great insight into a killers mind - it doesn’t. Most of Christie’s actions outside the murders are common to many people. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this book. It was slow and unengaging. It could have been so much better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maria Hoskins

    If you are a Brit and a true crime lover, you will almost certainly know about 10 Rillington Place. Beware; the subject matter of this book is by necessity extremely depressing. The times and milieu in which John Reginald Christie committed his crimes are marked by poverty, squalor and deprivation, that goes not only for his victims but also the murderer himself. This book also very competently sets out the biographical details of all these terribly sad people, and the background to the murders, If you are a Brit and a true crime lover, you will almost certainly know about 10 Rillington Place. Beware; the subject matter of this book is by necessity extremely depressing. The times and milieu in which John Reginald Christie committed his crimes are marked by poverty, squalor and deprivation, that goes not only for his victims but also the murderer himself. This book also very competently sets out the biographical details of all these terribly sad people, and the background to the murders, the trial, the statements taken from Christie and witnesses, the evidence presented against him and finally the brief details of his execution. The author takes a very clear but controversial stance on the case of Timothy John Evans, concluding that Evans himself and Christie was the murderer of his wife and child. There is much clarity here but little spark, though given how murky this case is, that is hardly surprising,

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Excellent look at Christie, the murders, the case, and the trial I didn't know anything about Christie beyond brief mentions in British books. The biography is a well researched, and readable, look at the man. It is very balanced about the him and his crimes. The controversy about the two Evans' murders is interesting. Oates comes down firmly on the side of those who believe Evans killed his wife and daughter. He makes a good case. It was all very tawdry, sort of anti-upper crust murders--totally d Excellent look at Christie, the murders, the case, and the trial I didn't know anything about Christie beyond brief mentions in British books. The biography is a well researched, and readable, look at the man. It is very balanced about the him and his crimes. The controversy about the two Evans' murders is interesting. Oates comes down firmly on the side of those who believe Evans killed his wife and daughter. He makes a good case. It was all very tawdry, sort of anti-upper crust murders--totally different from the usual British murder mysteries that deal with the rich and titled. And of course, it's all too true. The house on Rivington was squalid, at least in photos. Christie and his wife lived in three rooms. Christie looks like a seedy accountant. Maybe because of that, not in spite of it, the book tells a fascinating tale.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karl Wardlaw

    This is a factual account of the serial murderer John Reginald Halliday Christie. This covers his life, his crimes and also examines whether he committed the Evans murders or not which many think should be added to the number of murders for which he was convicted. It was really interesting, gave a large amount of detail. The author displays in detail Christie and his role or not in the Evans murders. This also gives a good account of any fiction and other non-fiction books about the man. This is This is a factual account of the serial murderer John Reginald Halliday Christie. This covers his life, his crimes and also examines whether he committed the Evans murders or not which many think should be added to the number of murders for which he was convicted. It was really interesting, gave a large amount of detail. The author displays in detail Christie and his role or not in the Evans murders. This also gives a good account of any fiction and other non-fiction books about the man. This is worth buying for a good, factual account.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C.

    Something I really liked about this book is that the author points out from the beginning that any account of Christie’s life, when recounted by Christie himself, should be taken with skepticism. All too often, killers’ information about their lives are treated as statements of fact without being substantiated. Wherever possible, as others have noted, the author uses multiple sources to determine authenticity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Norma

    This book was probably the best book about John Christie to date. I have read many true crime books over the years and many only mention Christie in passing, highlighting his crimes and capture with a lot of claims. This book tries to weed out the things that are embellished or flat out untrue. Very good book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    KBooks -

    To be honest this book didn’t seem interesting until the last 4 chapters! At some points it feels as though it is researched a little too much in depth. It focused on what other books and people had gotten incorrect rather than stating the factual truth. However, as I stated I enjoyed the later chapters of this book and learnt a lot of the serial killer Christie.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Louise Gray

    A scholarly work, this book revisits past evidence and provides an excellent and thorough analysis as to Christie’s guilt or innocence. The theory around Evans’ own guilt is also explored, also backed up by careful analysis of the evidence. A must for true crime fans who like to understand the ins and outs of evidence and criminal justice processes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kasey McCarthy

    This book is a biography of a serial killer John Christine. The book starts out by talking about his life growing up. Then it explains the crime he committee and tries to explain why he murdered people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tasmin Bradshaw

    ‘Once again, I experienced that quiet peaceful thrill. I had no regrets’. Well researched and unbiased. Which always makes for a decent true crime read. I got a copy from NetGalley for an honest review

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    An interesting, well written and detailed account of the events at Rillington Place.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Powers

    Good read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Brickley

    Could have done with a sharper copyedit in places, some sentences were ambiguous, but a good true crime book that wasn't victim-blamey or salacious. Could have done with a sharper copyedit in places, some sentences were ambiguous, but a good true crime book that wasn't victim-blamey or salacious.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I thought that this was a great book and it gave a great overview of John Christie and his crimes at 10 Rillington Place, a place made infamous due to his activities at the location. I thought that the book was well researched and you could see the attention to detail that the author put in to the work. They had clearly done a lot of background work. I thought it was an easy book to read and the later chapters for me were the most interesting. It has a great https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I thought that this was a great book and it gave a great overview of John Christie and his crimes at 10 Rillington Place, a place made infamous due to his activities at the location. I thought that the book was well researched and you could see the attention to detail that the author put in to the work. They had clearly done a lot of background work. I thought it was an easy book to read and the later chapters for me were the most interesting. It has a great layout and flow with the chapters being broken down to keep the biography concise too. The trial and execution of Timothy Evans who took the rap for one, if not two, of Christie’s crimes was one of the main catalysts for changing the legislation on capital punishments in the UK so that was an interesting angle in the book too. It is 4 stars from me for this one, I thought it was a well written book, it had plenty of detail and even though the subject matter is not an easy in places I did enjoy the book and I thought it was a great true crime biography – highly recommended

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna Bergmark

    "Dull, sordid, unglamorous, dreary"? Yep. All of the above I'm afraid. There doesn't seem to be much to say about this serial killer. A large chunk of this book feels like landfill; a lot of names (including maiden ones!) of relatives and neighbors, petty details of little interest, and addresses, addresses, addresses... You're up till your armpits in addresses. But if I find this uncompelling it's not only the fault of the author. No, a big part of the problem lies in the subject matter itself. I "Dull, sordid, unglamorous, dreary"? Yep. All of the above I'm afraid. There doesn't seem to be much to say about this serial killer. A large chunk of this book feels like landfill; a lot of names (including maiden ones!) of relatives and neighbors, petty details of little interest, and addresses, addresses, addresses... You're up till your armpits in addresses. But if I find this uncompelling it's not only the fault of the author. No, a big part of the problem lies in the subject matter itself. It's a case of "the banality of evil" I suppose. There's nothing exciting or titillating about this. You can forget about the Hannibal Lecter effect. Reading this will leave you feeling dirty and depressed. And none the wiser. John Christie continues to be an enigma. A grey boiled cabbage smelling lying weasel amorphous blob of a puzzle. And after 190 pages I can't say I care if it's ever solved. I just want to wash my hands of it. Literally. With some heavily scented soap.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cherie Martin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mary Edge

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert Gordon

  28. 4 out of 5

    Francine

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Nightingale

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

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