Anne Perry

No, this young lady below is not Anne Perry. This is the actress Melanie Lynskey as she appeared in the movie, “Heavenly Creatures.” I will come back to the movie (and Melanie) a little later.

Anne Perry is a noted author, having written more than 50 novels, collections of short stories and Christmas stories. She was born in London on October 28, 1938, and having been diagnosed with tuberculosis as a child, was sent to the Caribbean and South Africa to recuperate, eventually landing in New Zealand with her family. Ms. Perry’s first novel, “The Cater Street Hangman” was published in 1979, and she built a writing career comprised of historical murder mysteries and detective stories. I have to admit to not have read any of Ms. Perry’s novels, but many have as she has reportedly sold more than 30 million books. Victorian murder mysteries are not my cup of tea, quite frankly, and I lean more toward Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and the international intrigue that sprouts from the imagination of Daniel Silva. What follows is Ms. Perry in a fairly recent photograph. Seems like a nice older person.

However, there is more to Anne Perry than meets the eye. She was born and raised as Juliet Marion Hulme and it was shortly after her arrival in New Zealand that her life started to unravel. In her Christchurch high school Juliet became fast friends with Pauline Parker. The friendship appeared to border on an obsession and when it became apparent that Pauline’s parents were separating and that Pauline would move to South Africa, there seemed to be a provocation for action. Juliet, not quite 16, and the teenaged Pauline devised a plan to kill Pauline’s mother. On the 22nd of June, 1954, the girls beat Mrs. Parker to death with a brick in a stocking while the three were on a walk in a Christchurch Park. Juliet and Pauline were charged with and convicted of murder and sentenced to five years in an Auckland prison (they were fortunate that New Zealand had only recently rescinded the death penalty). The school girls below, with Ms. Hulme on the right.

In 1959 Ms. Parker and Ms. Hulme were released from prison, forbidden to have further contact with each other. Ms. Hulme returned to England, subsequently moving to the U.S. and eventually settling in a small village in Scotland to live with her mother. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and by all reports leads a relatively spartan, albeit productive life.

And that brings me to and “Heavenly Creatures” and Ms. Lynskey. Ms. Perry had lived under the radar until 1994, with only a few knowing her true identity. But the film, written and directed by Peter Jackson (yes, he of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” fame), followed the story of the two school girls from the time of their first meeting to the murder of Mrs. Parker. Ms. Perry was thus exposed. As painful as that might have been, it seems that Ms. Perry survived her infamy, and she continues to write (two or three books a year). As for Ms. Lynskey, here she is with her co-star in the film, none other than Kate Winslet (as Juliet Hulme). Both Ms. Lynskey (as Ms. Parker) and Ms. Winslet made their film debuts in “Heavenly Creatures” with Ms. Winslet then going on to win on Oscar for her performance in “The Reader” in 2008 (plus six other nominations for Academy Awards). There is no question Ms. Winslet is a superb actress, but pray she doesn’t win another award. She won a Golden Globe for “The Reader” and gave the longest, gushiest, most cringe-worthy acceptance speech in recent memory.

Not to forget Ms. Lynskey. She never lacks for work, and you will know her from the television series “Two and a Half Men” as Rose, the neighbour who (hilariously) tormented Charlie Sheen’s character over something like 60 episodes.

The real Ms. Parker? She lives in a small village in England as Hilary Nathan.