Death in the Air – Kate Winkler Dawson
Death in the Air – The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City.
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 the these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.
“Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson is a fascinating, beautifully researched, and compulsively readable book, which tells the entwined stories of the Great London Smog of 1952 and a serial killer, John Reginald Christie, who exploited the fog as a cloak for murder. This is a portrait of London at one of its darkest and most desperate times. Not since The Devil in the White City has a book told such a harrowing tale.”―Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monster of Florence and The Lost City of the Monkey God
“How have we forgotten this incredible story? A deadly environmental disaster visited upon modern London, a serial killer stalking women at its zenith–this is a tale dying to be told. Death in the Air is a stunning debut by a writer you will be hearing about for years to come. It’s just a great book.”―Bryan Burrough, New York Times bestselling author of Public Enemies and Barbarians at the Gate
“A killer fog. A killer loose amidst it. Dawson does what skilled storytellers do: drops you in a London peopled by finely etched characters and keeps you turning pages through the twist and turns of a harrowing case.”―Joe Drape, New York Times bestselling author of American Pharoah and Our Boys
“A London peasouper hangs over the city as a serial killer stalks its streets! This is a true tale of criminal violence against the backdrop of one of the worst environmental disasters of all time, one that led to the death of 12,000 people. It is a narrative that has relevance to the world’s pollution problems of today and is also an engrossing read.”―Christine L. Corton, author of London Fog: The Biography
“I was seven, and living in London, when these two dreadful and murderous events uncoiled, and I–asthmatic as a result–remember them still. It seems to me that only an outsider, a non-Londoner, could possibly bring them so vividly, so excruciatingly and so unflinchingly back to life. Kate Winkler Dawson has done the history of my city a great service, and she is to be commended for telling a terrible tale memorably and brilliantly.”―Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman
“Dawson deftly weaves the tales together in an engrossing narrative that reads like a thriller…. readers will remain hooked on this compelling story and will eagerly await Dawson’s next book.”―Kirkus
“A deranged maniac plays Fleet Street’s reporters like a fiddle at the same time that an industrial-age climate disaster explodes into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Richly detailed and shrewdly told, Kate Winkler Dawson’s Death in the Air is as suspenseful as it is chillingly relevant.”―Robert Kolker, New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls
“Just when you think true crime can’t get more interesting, here comes Kate Dawson with her imaginatively conceived and meticulously researched tale about Reg Christie, the fastidious, soft-voiced London clerk who embarks on a vicious killing spree in 1952 just as a deadly fog descends on London. But Death in the Air is hardly another study of a depraved serial killer. It’s also a riveting history of London in the years after World War II–a city beset by political cover ups and misguided police investigations. Dawson’s ability to weave together so many separate strands of one story is simply magnificent.”―Skip Hollandsworth, author of The Midnight Assassin: The Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer
“Kate Winkler Dawson has a born storyteller’s gift for building suspense and momentum and a keen eye for telling details, and her narrative poses a powerful moral question: who’s the worse killer–a madman who strangles seven women and a baby, or government officials whose staggering indifference allows thousands to die in the great London smog of 1952? Dawson captures the whole sad mess in a heartbreaking, page-turning account that almost literally grips you by the throat as the government, the police, the press, and the medical profession all fail in their fundamental duty to preserve and protect the city’s most vulnerable residents.”―Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of High Noon and The Searchers
“Dawson has reached deep into the past and pulled forth a spellbinding, darkly gothic tale of two serial killers–only one of which was human. Death in the Air surprised me, entranced me, and changed the way I see one of the most urgent issues facing the world today.”―Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
Kate Winkler Dawson is a seasoned documentary producer, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, WCBS News and ABC News Radio, Fox News Channel, United Press International, PBS NewsHour, and Nightline. She teaches journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.
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