The Search for Anne Perry
by Joanne Drayton

Arcade Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-628-72324-3.
Reviewed by Ann McCauley
Posted on 09/29/2014

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Relationships

The Search for Anne Perry is a well written and well researched nonfiction exposé. It is a must read for the legions of Anne Perry fans. However, the book structure is a bit difficult to follow for those of us who are not familiar with Anne Perry novels, the first part of the book especially. There are many references to characters and plots in Perry's book series, and having not read those books, I had to scramble to figure out what was going on. Though I hate to admit it, I skipped over most of the detailed references to Anne Perry's novels. The author is obviously trying to connect Anne's history to the plots and characters of some of her books.

The later part of the book reveals the ugly secrets. The calculating brutal murder of her best friend's mother is shocking to read, even sixty years after the fact. My greatest sympathy is for the murder victim, the unsuspecting mother.

Despite Anne's isolation and suffering for years in prison, she seems to have survived without serious psychological problems. In the early years after her release from prison, she found forgiveness through the Mormon faith. Interestingly, Ms. Drayton notes that themes of redemption thread through Perry's novels, something Anne desperately needed after the dreadful crime she and her then best friend committed at age fifteen.

Anne Perry is now in her seventies. She lives a low profile life except for her book tours; she became an internationally known super author of the murder/crime genre. Her experience certainly adds a new twist to the phrase, write what you know.

Several years ago I met Perry's American agent, Don Maas, at a writing conference and he spoke of her as if she were a writing goddess. Although her British and American agents remain loyal and supportive, they were totally shocked when they learned their Anne Perry was actually the convicted murderer, Juliet Hulme, convicted in a bizarre crime described by many: as THE murder of the twentieth century.

I found an Anne Perry novel in my stack of books to read, and it is now at the top of the pile. Who knows, because of this enlightening book by Joanne Drayton, even I may become an Anne Perry fan.

Joanne Drayton is the author of the critically acclaimed Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime and three other biographies. She also writes about as art as well as design history and theory, and is associate professor in the Department of Design at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. Visit her website.

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