My latest book odyssey started with Roberta’s blog about a meeting with the author of a new book. Peter Graham, a Canterbury barrister turned crime writer, had just written a new investigative book about the Parker/Hulme Murder. This matricide in 1954, in our very own city, caused shock and unease in quiet Christchurch at the time, and continues to intrigue and fascinate people to this day.
So Brilliantly Clever weaves together known and little known facts with details of the two murderers’ early and later lives. Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme violently murdered Pauline’s mother Honorah Parker in Victoria Park, using a brick in a stocking. The question of why has kept many, including academics, playwrights, novelists, journalists, filmmakers and the general populace both here and world-wide trying to come up with an answer.
I found the book both disturbing and enlightening. I had watched Peter Jackson’s film based on the case, Heavenly Creatures, and had always been interested. But in this book, I learnt about many of the background nuances of their personalities, what happened at the trial, who the key players were and what happened to many involved, after the trial was over. It also gives an interesting snapshot of Christchurch in the mid-fifties.
I decided to immerse myself. After reading the book, I re-watched Heavenly Creatures and read an Anne Perry novel. Juliet Hulme was spirited off overseas after serving her sentence and eventually settled in Scotland where she writes under the name Anne Perry. I also watched a documentary titled Anne Perry- Interiors, that is well worth hunting out. Pauline Parker now lives a hermit’s life in the Orkney Islands. I also plan to read Parker and Hulme: A Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison Laurie.
I’m not sure I’m any closer to deciding for myself why these two 15-year-old girls committed this horrible crime, there are so many factors that come into play. If this case has ever interested you or you are interested in local history, this book is well worth a read.