Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

The spellbinding true story of Anne Perry, her friend Pauline Parker, and the brutal crime they committed in the name of friendship.

On June 22, 1954, teenage friends Juliet Hulme—better known as bestselling mystery writer Anne Perry—and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honora. Half an hour later, the girls returned alone, claiming that Pauline’s mother had had an accident. But when Honora Parker was found in a pool of blood with the brick used to bludgeon her to death close at hand, Juliet and Pauline were quickly arrested, and later confessed to the killing. Their motive? A plan to escape to the United States to become writers, and Honora’s determination to keep them apart. Their incredible story made shocking headlines around the world and would provide the subject for Peter Jackson’s Academy Award–nominated film, Heavenly Creatures.

A sensational trial followed, with speculations about the nature of the girls’ relationship and possible insanity playing a key role. Among other things, Parker and Hulme were suspected of lesbianism, which was widely considered to be a mental illness at the time. This mesmerizing book offers a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial and shares dramatic revelations about the fates of the young women after their release from prison. With penetrating insight, this thorough analysis applies modern psychology to analyze the shocking murder that remains one of the most interesting cases of all time.

Received for review.

I must say that before reading this I was actually rather fond of Anne Perry's books and considered myself a casual fan.  After the book I will no longer be picking up a single book of hers and will in face scour my shelves in case a stray volume of hers remains and will purge it from my home.  Just having them around makes me feel dirty.  I just can no longer look at the author and her works in the same way.

A casual Anne Perry fan at the time the publisher asked me to consider this book I was intrigued. I thought "Hey, that sounds kinda cool".  Alas, not cool.  Think nightmare inducing.  I would not want to be in a room, a building, or a town with those two.  They're the female versions of O.J.  If O.J. were guilty, of course (cough, cough).  The fact that they show no remorse is simply chilling.    And that they received virtually no prison time makes me want to vomit.  Frankly, the whole darn thing just made my skin crawl.

I suppose I should address the fact that the girls were widely supposed to be lesbians.  I frankly couldn't care less whether they were or not, and being a lesbian has no impact whatsoever on whether those two are cold-blooded, unrepentant murderers.  There have been millions of lesbians through the ages and the vast majority have not gone around committing matricide.

Despite the subject the book was incredibly well written, researched, and documented.  The author is remarkably unbiased and respectful towards the two unrepentant murderers and clearly discusses each element of the case in detail.  Yes, it can be a bit tedious at times with testimony and such but the story is truly like a car accident that you just cannot look away from.  You just cannot put this book down (or into the freezer a la Joey).

I highly recommend this to true crime fans.  Anne Perry fans should certainly read this as well, and may find themselves as put off by her books as I found myself.  Regardless, you will be sleeping with your light on for days (or weeks) after you read this!

★★★★ = Really Liked It


Ryan said...

I remember your comment on FB about this one. I think one day I will read it, just not sure when.

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