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    “Death in the Air” – A Biography of Kate Winkler Dawson

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    In Kate Winkler Dawson’s biography titled Death in the Air, she writes about the London Smog they killed 12,000. She also touches on the serial killer that killed eight people. The book takes place in 1952 in the heart of London. The Journalist, write her biography as a true crime writing about 2 stranglers. One, an environmental one. A vapor full of soot, and sulfur dioxide suffocating the citizens of London. The second, John Reginald Christie who lured women into his apartment to murder them. What was his tactic’suffocation. At the time, the press underreported these stories of the smog. Yet, they exhausted Christie’s murders. Dawson sets out to correct that.

    Dawson never creates a universal plot with both stories acting together. She uses the two separate stories to build up the time she wrote the book in. Rather, she uses reports and interviews from individuals living through that time. The most interesting, Rosemary Sargent. A bombing in her neighborhood at thirteen years old, matured her very quickly. The bombing happened during the Blitz, separating her and her sisters from her father. Already sick from the war, her father died as she was going to get medicine from the doctor. No government official commented on these mysterious deaths. Dawson makes an observation that it was not the government to notice the death toll. All across London, Funeral Directors reported an increasing demand for caskets. Government officials took years to understand the reason for these deaths. The reason was the smog. Dawson includes that in 1956, Britain passed the Clean Air Act. The Act restricted on industrial smoke and banned coal. This Act made the number of deaths due to fog events plummet.

    The fog created a cloak for John Reginald Christie’s crimes. What was Christie’s strategy? First, Christie would target vulnerable women. He would chat them up and then ask them to come back to his Nottingham flat, or apartment. Once in the apartment, he would suffocate them. To hide the bodies, he would stuff them into walls, and floorboards. No one ever thought anything suspicious of John Reginald Christie. Yet, there were clues that he was a killer. Christie proved evidence to the police. the evidence linked his neighbor to the murder his wife and young daughter. The neighbor continued to claim that Christie killed his family. Everyone labeled him crazy. No one thought anything wrong of the mild-mannered man. Neighbors noted an odd smell, constant digging in the garden, and a women’s thigh bone propped up on his gate. Everyone never thought anything of it. No individual believed John Reginald Christie would be capable of such horrible acts.

    Dawson connects the Smog and the Case of Christie to give a strange, but true social crime history. By imagery, she creates a clear picture of the smog days in 1952. Dawson outlines the effects of the smog and killer on the loose, and how the government reacted. Dawson writes the book, ‘Death in the Air’, to shed a light on the unspoken history that lies within the tragedies. She creates a story that is so crucial for the history of London that so many failed to write before her.

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    “Death in the Air” – A Biography of Kate Winkler Dawson. (2022, Nov 25). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/death-in-the-air-a-biography-of-kate-winkler-dawson/

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