Murder She Wrote

The search for Ann Perry

Three words: Damn. Fine. Read.

I’m three-quarters of the way through this page turner which I borrowed from our local library. Not to put too dramatic a spin on it but I’ve breathlessly lived every one of those pages. Fascinating does not begin to describe the vice-like grip this true crime/biography has held me in this past week.

Anne Perry is the international bestselling British author of over fifty novels, which to date have sold over 25 million copies. She is currently 78 years of age. At the age of fifteen she was convicted of participating in the murder of her friend’s mother, in 1954. She changed her name to Anne Perry after serving her five-year sentence.

The centrepiece of this story is the outing of her, and her secret past life, back in 1994. That was the year Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong and the forthcoming Mortal Engines) movie Heavenly Creatures was released. The film, which was actress Kate Winslet’s screen debut, was based on the real life relationship between two New Zealand school girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme who, on June 22nd 1954, murdered Parker’s mother in a Christchurch park. Juliet Hulme was later to become the person the world would know as Anne Perry.

After serving  five years in prison, Juliet Hulme was released and left New Zealand to start a new life in Scotland under the assumed name Anne Perry. By the time the movie came out, people knew Anne Perry only as the crime fiction writer read and adored by millions. A ‘slip of the tongue’ at one of the film’s official launches exposed the connection between the adult Anne Perry and the teenage Juliet Hulme.

 Compelling if you’re into this type of thing and almost as hard to put down as the last non-fiction book I read, which happened to be on the subject of anti-gravity. Heard that one before? Maybe so, but if it’s originality you crave, this story has it – if you’ll forgive the bury-the-body related expression – in spades.♠

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Ps. Not fussed on the idea of writing a 100 000 word novel but still feel the itch to cast the odd mesmerizing word spell? A competition being run by the Queensland Writer’s Centre could be just what you’ve been looking for. Entrants have until November 24th to submit a story of just eight words. The best will be seen on Goa Billboards throughout Brisbane. Go here to see some of the entries.

For the benefit of inspiring others to the firm belief they could do better, here’s mine –

Rich uncle Toblerone was finally off to prism.

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PSS. Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks also a writer?

Who knew?

Hanks has just published his first book of fiction, a collection of seventeen short stories entitled “UNCOMMON TYPE“. Everyone’s got a favourite Tom Hanks movie (mine are SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, CASTAWAY and FOREST GUMP) and now we have a chance to check out his writing smarts as well.

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5 thoughts on “Murder She Wrote

  1. This post just reaffirms to me Glen that reading is so much better when your actually interested in the topic. When I was growing up and at school, I had a real dislike for reading because I wasn’t interested in anything other than sports or movies. To try to lure me into reading, my parents actually started buying me autobiographies and biographies of my favourite sporting heroes and I became hooked, similar in the way you are to the book you’re currently reading. That led me down the road of reading more non fictional books about famous musicians, actors, artists, commentators, and even incredible stories of survival, such as a book called ‘Night” by Elie Wiesel, which was gripping.

    I just really enjoy real life books, more so than fictional stories, although I still occasionally read them. Which leads me to a question that I often debate with a friend of mine. Is reading a quality fiction book better than watching the movie that it so often gets turned in to? He says that reading the book is always better, but I’m not so sure. Sometimes I’d prefer the movie as they are more visual and have the added bonus of special effects. Plus most go for approx 90 minutes, compared to the many hours it takes to reading a book. Any thoughts about my early Saturday morning ramblings?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hadn’t heard of the book NIGHT (published in 1960) by Elie Wiesel, who passed away only last year, but a quick internet search shows it’s a very well-known book described by a number of critics as being a ‘bedrock of holocaust literature’. As you’d know Matt, NIGHT documents the authors survival in Nazi German Concentration camps as a teenager during WW2 – experiences that led Wiesel to believe that God was dead.

    NIGHT was actually the first book in a trilogy—NIGHT, DAWN, DAY—marking Wiesel’s transition during and after the Holocaust from darkness to light. Oprah Winfrey is among the people who have championed the book over the years but apparently there was some controversy over how much of the book was true memoir and how much incorporated elements of fiction.

    Thanks Matt for bringing this book to my attention.

    As regards the ‘ol chestnut debate around the various virtues of books vs movies, you definitely touched upon one factor that distinguishes between the two – time. Watching a movie takes two hours but reading a book is usually a time investment of at least a month for me. I’m usually in the movie camp when it comes to entertainment choice but one notable case that comes to mind where I preferred the book was LONE SURVIVOR, written jointly by U.S Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell and British author Patrick Robinson and published in 2007. It tells the true story of ill-fated Operation Red Wings that occured in 2005 during the war in Afganistan. A SEAL reconaissance team was sent in to track down and kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. All except one lone survivor ended up being killed.

    This book was made into an excellent movie of the same name in 2014 starring Mark Wahlberg and Eric Bana. But as good and thrilling as that movie was, it couldn’t come close to the masterpiece of gripping intricate detail and blow by blow stalking action that the book gave life to. Naturally you have to be interested in the subject matter to begin with and for anyone that was, the book was simply unputdownable. And that’s coming from a person (me) who regards the vast majority of books (especially novels) as VERY ‘putdownable’.

    On the other side of the coin, many years ago I read Stephen King’s THE SHINING, which I don’t recall as being anything more than my usual slow, meandering plough-through of a fiction book. The movie, by contrast, took ‘glued to the screen’ to a whole new level for me in a masterclass of atmosphere building and tension I’ll never be able to nor want to erase from memory.

    I think the case for books being better than films is made by those who espouse the view that though the cinematic experience may be wondeful, movies just don’t have the same inclusion that books offer. With films, so the argument goes, you’re merely an observer: you aren’t feeling everything the character feels, aren’t reading every single one of their innermost thoughts, all of their doubts and fears and hopes.

    Films let you observe everything. Books let you feel everything, know everything and LIVE everything. This line of thought is perhaps aligning a book to the experience of reading someone else’s personal diary, whereas a movie might be compared with the experience of leafing through someone else’s photo album.

    Using these same analogies, I’d say that some of my most uninspired moments have come when looking at other people’s holiday snaps. Yet happening upon a person’s unlocked diary open on an unguarded desk might be compared to a detective’s obsessional interest in uncovering a lead to crack a homicide case.

    In any case, it’s difficult to argue against the idea that whenever stories are told with consumate skill, no matter what the medium of their telling, the reader or viewer is transported magically to another dimension and it can be hard to look away.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad you asked Glen your question Matt. It made me think about how little I see my boys reading, as opposed to watching youtube videos etc. I was able to raise the subject, speaking of the benefits for brain development as reading does fire the creative imagination when watching videos doesn’t. Both boys were surprisingly quite amenable to the idea of reading more.

    The thought of my boys becoming book worms is still a challenge for my imagination, but you have helped me to push some effort in that direction again. Thank you to both of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: What The Killer Did Next | Scenic Writer's Shack

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