Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City, by Kate Winkler Dawson {ends 12/3}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Neighbors watched me digging,” he said. “They nodded ‘cheerios’ to me.” When they left, he dragged Ruth from the washhouse and rolled her into the grave.

In 1952, nine years later, she was still there, secluded by the fog
just another object planted in the garden. His garden. She was lying beneath him, many days. The war constable with a large forehead, thinning hair, and startling voice frequently dragged a rake less than two feet above her. His steps disturbed the dirt. He shoved plants into the ground just inches from her facehe fancied himself a talented gardener.

Death in the Air is a non-fiction book covering a couple subjects – serial killer John Reginald Christie of London, and the London fog/smog disaster of 1952.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Death in the Air
A real-life thriller in the vein of The Devil in the White City, Kate Winkler Dawson's debut Death in the Air is a gripping, historical narrative of a serial killer, an environmental disaster, and an iconic city struggling to regain its footing.

In winter 1952, London automobiles and thousands of coal-burning hearths belched particulate matter into the air. But the smog that descended on December 5th of 1952 was different; it was a type that held the city hostage for five long days. Mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and 12,000 people died. That same month, there was another killer at large in London: John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. In a braided narrative that draws on extensive interviews, never-before-published material, and archival research, Dawson captivatingly recounts the intersecting stories of these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.

In reading Death in the Air, I couldn’t help but feel the topics could have worked as two completely separate books. The author tried to show an intersection between John Reginald Christie’s killings of young women over the course of at least 10 years, and the thousands of deaths resulting from a toxic fog over the city for five days in 1952. While they did happen in part at the same time, the similarity ended there. It made it a sort of odd read by jumping back and forth between the two story lines.

I loved the ‘real people’ parts—reading about the people who lost family members to respiratory failure from the fog, learning about Christie and his victims, and even the real struggles of members of Parliament to prevent further deaths or miscarriages of justice. Not being a Londoner (where both stories took place), I also liked the tie-in that referenced an air pollution disaster just a few years earlier in Pennsylvania.

Death in the Air was also meticulously researched by Kate Winkler Dawson, and I feel completely equipped to choose either ‘London Smog in 1952’ or ‘Reg Christie, Serial Killer’ on Jeopardy. I could risk it all and win.

In conclusion, I would give Death in the Air 3 stars out of 5. This would be a great book for history buffs, serial killer aficionados, or prevention of air pollution advocates.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley liked zombies and sloths before they were cool. She’s been blogging around SE Michigan at for more than 15 years.


Three of my lucky readers will win a copy of Death in the Air!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, December 3rd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, otherwise an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

Death in the Air hardcover copies


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