Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham is a fascinating read.  I’ll admit that initially I thought the title was a bit over the top—there are a lot of homicides that could challenge that claim.  However, when I realized the book was written by a New Zealand author, I realized that in the context of that country, it did live up to its billing.
This well-written, captivating book plunges you into the disturbed lives of two teenage girls, Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, who felt justified in killing Pauline’s mother, Honorah Parker, in 1954.  Graham explores the vagaries of the adolescent
mind as well as the now-antiquated notions of the psychiatric profession of the
time and the dynamics of two families in different social strata whose mingling
ended in violence and death.
Graham conquered the many challenges inherent in crafting an
historical true crime book, creating a portrayal of this unique homicide set in
an amazing idyllic locale and happening in a far more innocent era.  It’s no wonder that this case remains a
frequent topic of conversation in New Zealand and a cause célèbre of the
lesbian community there.
Beyond the telling of the crime itself, Graham escorts you
through the trial, the incarceration and to the discovery of the two women who adopted
new names and had built new lives halfway around the world.  The story is captivating without the added
notoriety gained by the identity of one the girls—the woman we now know as the
highly successful and admired author Anne Perry.


It is obvious that Perry has overcome the darkness of her
past but Graham points out the psychological contortions she had to do to achieve
that victory: mentally and emotionally distancing herself from her role in the
murder and denying the complexity of the relationship between Juliet and
Pauline.  I highly recommend Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century.  If you’re like me, you won’t be
able to put this one down.