Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Over the course of one weekend in 1952, a great smog consumed London. In four days, 3000 people had died and in the following weeks another 3000 would follow. The smog was so dense that hearses could not safely pickup bodies. At the same time, a serial killer in a Notting Hill slum was beginning to unravel. Dawson's immensely readable book takes us from the mind of a serial killer and into the halls of Parliament where a great government cover-up is hatched and subsequently destroyed. A great crime book and fascinating portrait of post-WW 2 England. Perfect for fans of Erik Larson! - Sam

— From Sam's Staff Picks


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.

About the Author

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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316506861
ISBN-10: 0316506869
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English