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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 still provokes strong feeling and speculation.
But most of 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. And many simply repeat what has been said before. Accounts neglect Christie's early life and crimes and the lives of his victims, and even witness statements about the Christies have been overlooked. So a painstaking, scholarly reassessment of the evidence – and of Christie's life – is overdue, and that is what Jonathan Oates provides in this gripping biography of a serial killer.
He relies on contemporary primary sources, files from the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Public Prosecutor, as well as press and official reports. And he trawls through genealogical sources – electoral registers, the census, wills, military and police records and civil registration records. As a result, his account throws more light on the background, personalities and motivations of the key players in the drama – Christie, Evans, the victims and the courts.
In particular Jonathan Oates's reinvestigation seeks to present the widest possible range of facts relevant to the case. As he does so, he gives a compelling insight into Christie's life and how he was perceived before he was exposed as a serial killer.