‘Dark City: Crime in Wartime London’ / New book by Simon Read

In wartime London, the killers who plied their merciless trade used gas, ropes and guns, corrosive chemicals and tin openers. Some operated under the cover of dark, emerging when the city was at its most vulnerable; others simply struck whenever opportunity presented itself…

There was more to wartime London than Blitz spirit. At a time when Londoners were pulling together in the face of terrible adversity, the city was rife with looters, racketeers, terrorists, criminal gangs, rapists and murderers stalking the bomb-ravaged, panic stricken streets.

In Dark City, Simon Read paints a vivid picture of life in 1940s London, chronicles the rapid rise of crime during the Second World War, and profiles the most notorious perpetrators, including:

  • The Blackout Ripper – an RAF airman who preyed on prostitutes, leaving theirmangled bodies to be discovered.
  • John ‘Acid Bath’ Haigh – the man who dissolved his victims’ bodies in vats of acids, then stole their cash.
  • The Rillington Place Murderer – John Reginald Christie murdered several women, including his own wife, and stuffed their bodies under floorboards at 10 Rillington Place.

Dark City features a collection of photos and appeals, and also focuses on the investigation behind the murders and demonstrates the importance of fingerprinting and crime scene investigation in a time where bodies were being retrieved across London from mass-bombings on the city.

Dark City is published in hardback by Ian Allan Publishing,  25th January 2011, £19.99 

About the author:
Simon Read’s interest in wartime London stems from his grandfather Percy Read, who was a Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police during the 1940s, and an investigator on several of the cases featured in Dark City, including the Rillington Place murders. Simon Read is the author of The Blackout Murders (JR Books) and The Killing Skies: RAF Bomber Command at War (Spellmount).

For more information, contact [email protected]