Since I greatly enjoy Perry's William Monk series, I was stunned when a friend told me about this book and what she'd done as a fifteen year old. I can't possibly condone what she and her friend did. However, the writer makes some sense out of how it happened. Her parents were ill-suited to each other, and to being parents. Juliet's earliest years were spent in London during the Blitz; Graham implies one effect on the brilliant, shy child was what we now call PTSD. After the war, and many moves within England, her brilliant father got a job in Christchurch, New Zealand as head of a college. To get Juliet out of her hair, her mother sent her to many different schools; one result was friendlessness. Finally she found Pauline, whose parents were of a lower social class. They developed a fantasy world in which they would become famous writers of, often, violent stories. Juliet's mother was oversexed, even moved her lover into the family home. The college fired her father, and the couple divorced. The plan was for Juliet and her father to go to South Africa for her health while he looked for a job. She couldn't bear to be parted from Pauline, which was the reason for killing Pauline's mother. Since Juliet was 15 and Pauline 16, they knew they couldn't be executed. The murder itself is described in gross detail. The girls confessed to police. Juliet's father then hired lawyers, who realized the only possible defense was insanity. Neither girl was called during the trial. The courtroom was packed with reporters from all over the world. They were found guilty, to serve in prison "at her majesty's pleasure," in separate prisons with no contact. After about five years, both were released. Both changed names, and ended up back in England in isolated settings. Anne Perry began writing successful crime novels based in Victorian London. Oddly, most of her own books don't describe the murders in detail.

DorisWaggoner's rating:
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