Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century
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“A worthy retrospective that feels chilling in the manner of novelist Perry.” –Kirkus Reviews
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.
wellies and battered black sunglasses”. It was noticed that when school photographs were taken she was never in the picture. Reporters thought it odd there was no television, radio or even an oven in Nathan’s three-bedroom cottage. Odd also that the living room was full of dolls and there was a large rocking horse standing inside the front door. The former Pauline Parker kept ten ponies and an Arab stallion. Each weekend, it was said, half a dozen young girls from the village would come to muck
this was accepted by letter on March 15. When the drama ignited by Juliet’s discovery of Hilda and Bill in bed rattled the Hulme household, it had already been decided that Henry would leave New Zealand. According to Hilda, the initial arrangement with Henry was that he would return to England in January 1955 to secure another post, while she and the children remained in New Zealand during the summer to give Juliet time to fully recover her health. That decision, she would say, changed when they
that might support a defence of insanity. It was launched at a meeting in Terence and Eleanor Gresson’s Fendalton house, down a long drive opposite the fashionable St Barnabas Anglican Church. Terence Gresson, Brian McClelland, Alec Haslam and Jimmy Wicks sat around the Georgian dining table with Medlicott and Bennett. It was decided at the outset that the only possible chance of a successful defence would be for the lawyers and psychiatric experts acting for Juliet to collaborate with Pauline’s
fantasy life and write. It was a remarkably bland account of Juliet’s terribly neglected childhood. Adolescence, Medlicott suggested, was “a significant part of the picture”. At such a time, increased self-love and preoccupation with oneself were not uncommon: this had been called “the arrogant megalomania of childhood”. And then there was the sexual aspect. Before developing a mature capacity to love a person of the opposite sex, the adolescent frequently went through a stage of forming
was standing in the way of their friendship. “These two girls were in love with each other.… The most important thing in the world for them was to be together.” Nor did Stallworthy think the girls’ various fantasies indicated insanity. “I see nothing insane in having a vivid imagination and a fondness for using it at every opportunity.” He had already stated that he saw nothing insane in two highly intelligent and imaginative adolescents being preoccupied with the hereafter, even toying with a