The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer

Joanne Drayton. Arcade (Perseus, dist.), $25.95 (376p) ISBN 978-1-62872-324-3
Perry’s authorized biography would be a great deal duller had a secret from her youth in New Zealand not been exposed with the release of Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures and the ensuing publicity it aroused. While the bestselling mystery writer is undoubtedly a skilled author, readers will be more interested in Drayton’s handling of the revelation that, as a teenager in 1954, Perry (then using her birth name, Juliet Hulme) and her friend Pauline Parker murdered Pauline’s mother (the matricide on which Jackson’s film is based). The discovery of that dark secret makes for a dramatic opening, as Perry’s longtime agent and friend, Meg Davis, is contacted by a reporter claiming that Perry and Hulme are the same person. Instead of flashing back to Perry’s upbringing and the circumstances that led her to violence, Drayton (Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime) instead turns the focus on Perry’s development as a writer. That choice allows her to build sympathy for her subject before returning to 1954 and Perry’s awful crime. Drayton is no apologist, and Perry herself has not contested her guilt. While Drayton effectively shows how Perry’s experiences as a defendant and prisoner can be seen in her books, she dwells too much on publishing industry matters of advances and book deals. 18 color, 29 b&w photos. Agent: Meg Davis, Ki Agency (U.K.).(July)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 376 pages - 978-1-62872-398-4
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Ebook - 376 pages - 978-1-4434-1784-6
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-1-4434-1782-2
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-1-62872-604-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-1835-7
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