Kate Winkler Dawson

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Kate Winkler Dawson sits down with us this week, discussing her book, Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City (Hachette Books, October 17, 2017).

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Kate Winkler Dawson’s debut book is Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City (Hachette Books, October 17, 2017).

Kate holds a BS in broadcast journalism from Boston University and a MS degree in journalism from Columbia University. She currently teaches journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism as a senior lecturer in 2009. Before then, she was on the faculty of Fordham University’s Marymount College for two years. A seasoned documentary producer, news writer and TV news producer, her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, United Press International in London, WCBS News, ABC News Radio, Fox News Channel, “PBS NewsHour” and “Nightline.”

Kate is on the Board of Directors for the Texas Center for Actual Innocence, a non-profit organization that investigates claims of wrongful convictions in the state of Texas.

She lives in Austin, Texas with her family.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS  Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City (Hachette Books, October 17, 2017)

“Tendrils of sickening fog creep everywhere in this book, and terror lurks in the shadows. Dawson skillfully weaves these two events into a substantial narrative that will appeal to all types of readers.” –Library Journal (starred review)

“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

“Kate Winkler Dawson’s Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, The Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City is a stellar examination of a turbulent time in the city’s history. . . . Dawson’s background in documentaries and journalism makes this journey more than just a retelling of the facts. She tracked down people who lived it, and now readers will vividly experience that period as well.” –Associated Press

“Ms. Dawson, a journalist and documentary producer, is an assiduous researcher…her portraits of the ordinary people confronted by the depredations of the fog and Christie are moving. Ms. Dawson cogently argues that the Conservative government’s response to the crisis was shameful: It did everything it could, seemingly, to cover up the extent of the catastrophe and avoid addressing the emergency.” –Wall Street Journal

“Evocative . . . vividly atmospheric . . . The narratives add up to a grim, Dickensian portrait of postwar London: broke, grimy, dejected, deranged around the edges, and gasping for breath.” –Publishers Weekly

“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

“For five days in December of that year, London was blanketed by a yellow toxic vapor that smothered its inhabitants. Journalist Kate Winkler Dawson has written an intriguing book about this silent disaster, which was borne out of a perfect storm of freak weather patterns and environmental ignorance. . . . The lessons for the present, Dawson suggests, are as clear as the air in front of our eyes.” –Maureen Corrigan, “Fresh Air”

“What’s scarier: A murderous madman (now known to be John Reginald Christie) or an environmental disaster?” –Los Angeles Times

Death in the Air is an enlightening look at two lesser known but important events in British history, for both had far-reaching consequences.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

ABOUT Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City (Hachette Books, October 17, 2017)

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.

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.

The eventual arrest of the “Beast of Rillington Place” caused a media frenzy: were there more bodies buried in the walls, under the floorboards, in the back garden of this house of horrors? Was it the fog that had caused Christie to suddenly snap? And what role had he played in the notorious double murder that had happened in that same apartment building not three years before-a murder for which another, possibly innocent, man was sent to the gallows?

The Great Smog of 1952 remains the deadliest air pollution disaster in world history, and John Reginald Christie is still one of the most unfathomable serial killers of modern times. Journalist Kate Winkler Dawson braids these strands together into a taut, compulsively readable true crime thriller about a man who changed the fate of the death penalty in the UK, and an environmental catastrophe with implications that still echo today. –Hachette Books

For more information, please see http://www.katewinklerdawson.com/. You can keep up with Kate on Twitter and Facebook.