Monday, January 5, 2015

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

Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

From the beginning of the book, the journey of Anne Perry's publishing career was chronicled from the rocky start which left her destitute at times to the peak of her success. Everything in between was also examined, including the plots to her various series of books and the intimate friendships which grew out of her advance in the publishing world. What no one expected was that an incident from Anne's past would put everything into jeopardy once again.

In her youth Anne was known as Juliet Hulme, one half of a teenage duo that was involved in a scandalous murder in New Zealand during the 1950s. As this part of her history came under scrutiny, everything she'd worked so hard to attain and change within herself threatened to fall apart once again. The book examined the aftermath of this revelation as well as Anne's reaction to her darkest secret being laid out for everyone to see.

This book was another good find from OHFB and kept me entertained through another round of the flu. I honestly didn't know anything about the author, Anne Perry, or her various crime novels before I began this book. However, I did know some basic facts of the murder case which took place in New Zealand decades prior. It was a little hard at first to reconcile the fact that the crime writer was the same young girl who committed such a crime. The author not only attempted to show the stark differences between the adult Anne and the teenage Juliet, but she also explored the years shortly after the murder took place and the imprisonment of both girls. For most people, the case usually ended with the verdict and little thought was given to what comes after it.

Though the book began with the bombshell revelation about her past to her publisher, the central figure in the book was definitely Anne Perry. From her quiet second beginning and finding herself among the Mormon faith to the rocky start of her writing career, it was apparent that she was very much removed from the teenager who had made a grievous mistake. She safeguarded that dark secret as much as possible, more to protect those she loved than to protect herself. It was stated in several places that the anxiety about her past drove her to delve deeper into her comfort zones and explore things through her writing whenever possible. Mixed with the examinations of both past and present were the various plots of her books. Though they obviously were included to show a correlation between Anne's thoughts and feelings of her past with those of her future, there were quite a few times when I became lost reading about the plot of her books and distracted from the life of Anne herself!

For me the book had moments where the pacing was steady and I was always ready to keep turning those pages. However, there were also bits of the chapters were I felt like a lot of time had been given to the characters in her books instead of Anne, her colleagues, friends or family. I was glad to see that when the author wrote about the crime, the trial which followed and the imprisonment of both girls, she didn't sensationalize any of the events which took place. In fact, the author offered views from both sides of the aisle as well as the girls' own thoughts about what was taking place. It was quite clear that the author spent a lot of time researching and going through the various documents as she investigated the life and times of Anne Perry.

Overall, I quite liked the book. There was a message of hope and redemption through much of the trials and tribulations that Anne often wrote about in her own novels. She truly tried to be a person deserving of the second chance that she'd been granted after her release from prison. She also didn't try to invalidate the gravity of murder and the harm it caused for many people after the fact. She accepted responsibility for her actions time and again over the years. By the end of the book, one was left with a sense that the girl who found herself involved with something that escaped her grasp and comprehension wasn't the woman who began writing novels as a way to right social wrongs and spread a message of hope.

The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer by Joanne Drayton is currently available at many retailers. Copies can be purchased in various formats including hardcover, paperback, audio-book and Kindle. The following link will take you to the book's page at Amazon.
The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer by Joanne Drayton

No comments:

Post a Comment