My third book in this month’s 12 in 12 Challenge is actually a true crime book/biography and it is a book that changed things in its time. The book is 10 Rillington Place by Ludovic Kennedy and it was written in 1961 to rectify a miscarriage of justice. In order to do this the author, who was a journalist, wrote the life stories of two men and how they intersected at the address he used as the title for the book.
John Christie and Timothy Evans both lived in the same house with their respective wives. The book takes you through their upbringing and tries to explain the type of people they were and why. I think that some of his conclusions are expressed in a way that we might not find acceptable now, he describes Christie as effeminate for example, but he makes a good case. When we come to the time that they met we understand clearly why events happened in the way that they did.
Christie murdered a number of women because he discovered that he could only reach sexual satisfaction by killing them and having sex with their newly dead bodies. Among the women that he killed was Evans’ wife and also their infant child. Evans was arrested for the murder but he had low intelligence and was pressured into making a confession. He hanged for his crime. Later Christie’s crimes were discovered and he too was hanged. The author sets out this story in order to get a full pardon for Evans and show that he could not have committed the crime. At the time when he was writing there were a lot of people involved with the case who were still in public life and no one wanted to admit a mistake.
You have to understand that the book was written for this purpose because it goes into great detail about the trial and the enquiries which were held afterwards in order to prove that the evidence presented and the process were flawed. I didn’t mind this because I like this sort of presentation of facts but some readers may prefer a newer version of the story written by someone who isn’t trying to make a point.
This book is fascinating and it is an excellent insight into the lives of some ordinary people at the time. Christie and Evans were living on the margins of society and so were some of the women who died. We are shown why people could disappear without being missed and also how class played such a large part in the events.
Well worth a read if this type of book interests you.