Friday, October 3, 2014

Review: The Search for Anne Perry by Joanne Drayton

In 1994, director Peter Jackson released the movie Heavenly Creatures, based on a famous 1950s matricide committed in New Zealand by two teenage girls embroiled in an obsessive relationship. The movie launched Jackson’s international career. It also forever changed the life of Anne Perry, an award-winning, bestselling crime writer, who at the time of the movie’s release was publicly outed at Juliet Hulme, one of the murderers. A new light was now cast, not only on Anne’s life but also on her novels, which feature gruesome and violent deaths and confront dark issues, including infanticide and incest. 

Acclaimed literary biographer Joanne Drayton was given unparalleled access to Anne Perry, her friends, relatives, colleagues, and archives to complete this book. She intersperses the story of her life with an examination of her writing, drawing parallels between Perry’s own experiences and her characters and storylines. Anne Perry’s books deal with miscarriages of justice, family secrets exposed, punishment, redemption, and forgiveness, themes made all the more poignant in light of her past. She has sold 25 million books worldwide and published in 15 different languages, yet she will now forever be known as a murderer who became a writer of murder stories. The Search for Anne Perry is a gripping account of a life, and provides understanding of the girl Anne was, the adult she became, her compulsion to write, and her view of the world.

Received for review.

Let me start off by saying that I used to be a fan of Anne Perry's books, until I found out that she was a completely unrepentant murderer, at which point I had to purge her books from my home.  I still cannot even look at her books in a store without a shiver of disgust.

The author of this autobiography deserves quite a bit of respect for even attempting to put a warm and fuzzy spin on such an unsavory character.  I really don't know why she chose to try to make the woman seem more likable, but it didn't work for me.  I actually found myself more disgusted and disturbed by Perry by the end of the book.

I was actually quite horrified that the author described Perry's "struggles" that she had to overcome from her murderous past.  I gather the descriptions of the "struggles" were supposed to make Perry seem more human, but they didn't.  I got more of a feeling of a sociopathic Dexter-type character from the descriptions.  There was no humanity shown - probably because there isn't any to show.  

I was left feeling more "Oh, boo hoo, you were outed as the unrepentant murderer that you are.  How horrible for you." than feeling any sort of sympathy for this creature.

This is a fascinating look into the life and mind of a sociopath.  It's clearly very well written and researched.  Perry's fan should enjoy it since it provides a kinder, gentler spin on her murderous behavior.  

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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