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Anne Perry: sociopath or just cold?

The search for Anne Perry - Joanne Drayton

This Anne Perry bio was written with Perry's cooperation, and boy does it show. The author is extraordinarily sympathetic. For those who don't know, Anne Perry was born Juliet Hulme and, at 15, helped to murder her best friend's mother.


Perry is now a devout Mormon and claims to have repented for her sins, but whenever she talks about the crime she's full of excuses as to why she's not really to blame for what happened: she thought her friend was suicidal; she felt pressured; the TB drugs (that she'd quit taking months before the crime happened) affected her thinking, etc. She denies being a lesbian, yet has a female life partner. Apparently she is the type of person who looks you in the eye and tells you things in an authoritative voice and expects you to accept them without questioning her. 


The author of this biography certainly accepts things at face value. She spent about a week interviewing Perry and it appears to have been the softly lit, ass-kissy kind of conversation that Oprah does when she's chatting up celebrities. She doesn't get into the details of Perry's crime until about a third of the way into the book. A lot of the information we get about Perry comes directly from people who have a business relationship with her, which is ridiculous--how honest are you going to be when asked about your meal ticket? How well do you really know someone that you deal with professionally?


The book is full of business emails that go into excruciating detail about Perry's advances and book deals, and at least a hundred pages are devoted to summarizing Perry's many novels. This is supposed to offer insight into her character because she writes lurid murder mysteries and likes to go back to themes of redemption and forgiveness in her writing. I have read a couple of her books and I agree that she writes from the position of one who wants to be accepted despite what she's done. The overwhelming sense one feels after reading her books, though, is that she's a cold person who views death as a puzzle, not a tragedy. Some of the creepier quotes taken from the books--like one saying how easy it is to bash someone over the head if they trust you--are presented without judgment. 


I have read other books about Parker/Hulme, and I watched the documentary that came out about Anne Perry a few years ago (Anne Perry: Interiors) and she simply does not seem to be someone who truly feels sorry for what she's done. Sorry she was caught, and sorry that people keep asking her about the crime? Yes. 


This is not the book to turn to if you're interested in learning about Anne Perry's character or private life. Do pick it up if you enjoy publishing insider info or spoiler-filled synopses of murder mysteries.