Monday, November 21, 2011

So Brilliantly Clever by Peter Graham

Many years ago a Bookseller told me that the writer Anne Perry was Juliet Hulme who along with her friend Pauline Parker had been convicted of the murder of Parker`s mother, it was apparently well know in literary circles but not else where, I kept my lips firmly buttoned up.
The whole case had unfolded before I was born and there was little real in depth awareness of it until Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh made Heavenly Creatures which was released in 1994 and which blew both the case and its chief characters out of the water, it also made Jackson, Walsh and Kate Winslet very well known. The scandal was huge and so was the PR Campaign that Anne Perry in particular orchestrated to proclaim her reluctant part in the murder of Honorah Parker. On top of the lies and mistruths that surrounded the case and the whereabouts of Parker was now added views that were designed to almost lay forgiveness on the heads of Hulme and Parker and to bestow upon them  a youthful waywardness that excused the horror of what they had done.
And horror it was, not only did they cold bloodily kill Hororah but it was planned with a depth of precision that leaves you breathless, not a single action was left to chance, every step they took and every blow they administered to this poor woman had been cunningly devised to grant them their wish of togetherness.The murder itself was not simply as many believe one blow to the head, it was numerous blows rendered with deliberateness.
Although justice was administered, the Police saw through their lies and deviousness, they were tried, found guilty and served 5 years, it would be hard to say that they paid for their crimes because they simply didn`t, at the end of the 5 years they were spirited away with new identities and free to live their lives as they saw fit and really they would have in the long term been able to keep the past under the radar if not for investigate journalist Lin Ferguson and Heavenly Creatures which opened the can of worms up and saw the case exposed to modern light.
Peter Graham has written a wonderfully, gripping read which takes you into both Parker and Hulmes ghastly souls, he does it with a fair and honest hand, leaving no stone unturned and taking his reader right into the minutiae of  1950`s Christchurch and the societal expectations that these diverse yet emotionally twin like girls were raised under, his ability to get into their minds and find their motivations was quite extraordinary as was his ability to filter the legalities of the case and the different opinions expressed by the so called experts who were called in to decide the girls sanity and write them in such a manner that even the novice arm chair expert can follow along and understand.There are unpleasant parts in this book but that shouldn't put you of reading it, it does what no one else has down in honouring Honorah Parker who most certainly didn`t deserve her fate and it acknowledges the consequences that the crime brought to all those who were involved either directly or indirectly, in my opinion the authors conclusion about Parker and Hulmes diagnostic profile is spot on as is his unwillingness to diminish a truly ghastly crime as the ill advised actions of two immature girls, it was much more than that. How remarkable that Anne Perry has made millions from writing crime fiction, we will probably never know weather her friend Hilary Nathan has in fact benefitted from those millions but we might guess that she has.

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