So Brilliantly Clever

Book Author Peter Graham
Rights Available World excl. NZ, AU, USA, Canada, Portuguese-language

On June 22, 1954, in the depths of a southern winter in Christchurch, New Zealand, teenage friends Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a park with Pauline’s mother. Half an hour later the girls returned alone. Honorah Parker lay in a sea of blood on a lonely track. She had been savagely murdered. In this mesmerising book, lawyer and true crime writer Peter Graham tells the whole story for the first time, giving a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial, dramatic revelations about the fate of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker after their release from prison and their strange lives today, and a penetrating insight into the crime using modern psychology. After her release from prison, Juliet Hulme changed her name to Anne Perry and is today the best-selling author of over 50 crime novels and lives in Los Angeles. Pauline Parker changed her name to Hilary Nathan and lives a life of recluse on a Scottish island.

The story of the two girls was made into the film Heavenly Creatures by award-winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong). It continues to fascinate people around the world.

Award: Finalist, New Zealand Post Book Award for Non-Fiction

About the Author
Peter Graham worked for 30 years in Hong Kong as a barrister before taking up a new career as a true crime writer. His first book, Vile Crimes, was praised by the New Zealand Herald as “murderously good… a pacy narrative”. He gained a lifetime interest in the murder of Honorah Parker when working as a young lawyer in the Christchurch office of the man who had been one of Juliet Hulme’s defence attorneys, where the case was often discussed. He is currently writing a book about a corrupt British police officer in Dublin during The Troubles.


Awa Press



Non Fiction

General Non Fiction

Publication Date

Rights Available:
World excl. NZ, AU, USA, Canada, Portuguese language

Rights Sold:
USA, Canada, Portuguese language (Brazil)

Rights Agents:


Mary Varnham, Awa Press

Contact Awa Press about this book

The book title link will automatically be added to your message.

This is the most thorough, conscientious and detailed version of the Parker-Hulme affair yet to appear. It could well be definitive.

Nicholas Reid, Sunday Star-Times

Graham has given a rare insight into the world of teenage lesbianism of last century, New Zealand society and the processes of law of the era.

Tom O’Connor, Waikato Times

You will find Peter Graham’s account to be objective and engaging. This is a great read, although it may disturb your sleep.

Andrew Rumbles, The Read

In his new book So Brilliantly Clever, criminal lawyer Peter Graham for the first time details the girls’ extraordinarily dysfunctional family backgrounds – complete with ménage à trois, a sham marriage and allegations of defective genes – and examines their psyche in the light of modern psychiatry.

Nikki MacDonald, The Dominion Post

So Brilliantly Clever is not just about a murder and the people involved; it is also a revealing study of the Christchurch of six decades ago, many of its personalities and the prevailing social attitudes and practices. It is beautifully written and wryly expresses. A good read!

Willie Young, The Press

The book is a comprehensive account of the murder, the backgrounds of the two families, the increasingly strange and delusional fantasy world the two girls came to inhabit, the trial itself, the aftermath for both families and the present-day identities of the two woman: successful crime writer Anne Perry (Juliet) and the reclusive Hilary Nathan (Pauline).

Rebecca Macfie, The Listener

I couldn’t put this book down.

Jeff Grigor, Chapter & Verses

I read this book in three long sittings and it would be fair to day I was riveted, even though it is true crime instead of my usual fare of crime fiction. I found the story of their lives in the years since the trial, prison and beyond especially interesting.

Graham Beattie, Herald on Sunday

Former lawyer Graham was convinced the field was still wide open for a book that told the full “fascinating story” of that “moider”. The speed with which So Brilliantly Clever has been flying off bookshop shelves suggests he was right.

Guy Somerset, The Listener’s Best Reads of 2011