Author: Kate Winkler Dawson
Summary: Exactly what I look for in narrative nonfiction – engaging and edifying.
“London was still recovering from the devastation of World War II when another disaster hit: for five long days in December 1952, a killer smog held the city firmly in its grip and refused to let go. Day became night, mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and some 12,000 people died from the poisonous air. But in the chaotic aftermath, another killer was stalking the streets, using the fog as a cloak for his crimes. All across London, women were going missing-poor women, forgotten women. Their disappearances caused little alarm, but each of them had one thing in common: they had the misfortune of meeting a quiet, unassuming man, John Reginald Christie, who invited them back to his decrepit Notting Hill flat during that dark winter. They never left.” (source)
The blurbs for this book compare it to Devil in the White City and it really is the perfect comparison. Both have dual story lines, one of which involves a serial killer. Both do a great job of connecting a story to the larger events of the times and both bring history to life with a definite flair for the dramatic. I think this was actually even better than Devil in the White City though. In Devil in the White City, the story of the Chicago Fair didn’t grab me quite as much as the story of the serial killer. In Death in the Air, the balance between the two stories was perfect. I was always excited to resume either story.
I could sometimes tell the author was working really hard to build suspense and while I prefer a book where I can’t see the author pulling the strings, I could forgive it here because it worked. I had a hard time putting this down! The editor could have done a better job (I counted more than 5 word added or missing typos in a finished copy), but otherwise, I have nothing to complain about. This was a fantastic, engaging piece of narrative nonfiction that I’d highly recommend.
Laurie @ RelevantObscurity
Interesting comparison, as I really liked The Devil in the White City.
Like you, I like (historical) novels that set a story in the larger world.
Yes! It’s such a fun way to learn about history 🙂
I agree with you – I thought the Chicago world fair part of the book dragged on a bit. This sounds like it might be more balanced!