Monday, March 12, 2007

Twisted family plots

Almost a decade ago, I was asked to judge a Mormon fiction contest. Slogging through some very terrible novels, I came upon a mystery with a family plot--I can’t remember the details of the book, but I’m sure it was about a mother or a father, a daughter or son, murdering or sleeping with a family member. And the setting was Victorian England (I was working on a ph.d. in nineteenth century British fiction). I voted for this book, and that year the book won. The Mormon author of note for the Association of Mormon Letters, Anne Perry.

A Mormon author unlike the others. I discovered that she was already a best-selling novelist, and a Mormon convert. Talking to a friend, I learned that Anne Perry also was one of the girls depicted in the troubling movie “Heavenly Creatures”--the friend who helped the daughter murder her parents. (The movie was also an intro to Kate Winslet, actress, and Peter Jackson, director). Anne Perry the pseudonym she took when she came out of prison.

Since then I’ve mostly read the Monk series of detective fiction. The policeman whose memory has been lost. The nurse from the Crimean war, Hester. The two eventually marry. Always, those twisted family plots.

I took the opportunity in Menlo Park to go to a reading by Anne Perry. Heard her talk about a regular writing schedule and teaching Sunday school.

I won’tjudge this woman’s fiction. I just read it with continued fascination. I would like to be as spunky, brave, outspoken as Hester. Right now I’m listening to a Pitt mystery--Charlotte and her husband. She’s also spunky, brave, outspoken. And her husband, like Monk, is an outsider, odd, but a good man and underneath a kind and sensitive husband, lover. Also a good policemant, who can always use his wife’s help. Who wouldn’t want such a man.

Still I continue to be fascinated by those plots, given this complicated history. The current book--two baby bodies unearthed in a public garden square. Abortion, murder, sex. Anne Perry at her best. My beloved Mormon author.


Lisa B. said...

I have never read her. Are the Monk and Pitt mysteries hers, then? They sound good. Did you ever read The Alienist? Also quite good, I thought--Freudian, Edwardian (if I'm remembering right--)

SusanS said...

I did read the Alienist, and I liked it. I just finished my Anne Perry novel (Callendar Square), and it turns out that a husband killed the blackmailer and the woman with child and the wife klled the two babies found buried in the garden at the center of the upscale square. At the back of all this--syphullus (and an abortion doctor). The husband had it, the wife carred to much about two children born to her after he had the disesase to let them live on deformed and diseased. Tyhpical Anne Perry. Yes, she has the two series Pitt and Monk (both now with the spunky wives).