The 1954 Parker-Hulme murder has become the stuff of myth, Perry and her role in it a sort of received national wisdom, framed by certain images and ideas. Now that girl is 73, a Mormon, living a "monastic life" in a tiny Scottish village, and bracing herself for another round of publicity thanks to the release of a startlingly sympathetic new biography. I just think, 'My God, that's stunning'." You could be forgiven, at this point, for raising an eyebrow and muttering something like, "Yes, but she's a murderer". Drayton is clearly in Perry's corner - although she does a thorough job of justifying that - and that annoyed me. "You can't get that depth and that intensity in those lines without having something to bring to it." This biography spends a lot of time analysing Perry's books and the details of how she came to be a bestselling author. "It was a same-sex intense relationship, but it didn't have to be a physical relationship and certainly I don't think they framed it up that way." During their interviews, Perry told Drayton she had several "red-hot affairs" with men in England and the United States after her release. Perry quickly let go of the relationship, although she tended to think of Pauline at times of crisis.
" That is how we talk about Anne Perry these days, if indeed we ever do. A tall 15-year-old girl, beautiful and dirty-minded and diabolical, smirking as she strolls out of court. She has this sort of vulnerability and a kind of fragility. She's found her way back and reached a huge height and achieved a huge amount. She brings her head and her heart to [her writing], each time." The result is "beautiful, beautiful, beautiful pieces of writing". "They definitely never said yes and, interestingly enough, they actually were quite horrified [at the suggestion]. After the trial, the two did meet a few times in prison.
I sprinted in and got hold of her but the next wave got us both and we ended up both under water.
I managed to get to my feet, grab her and drag towards the beach out of big wave range both of us spitting up water and snot. I caught my breath finally and grabbed my nearest rod, cast in to where she had been and slowly dragged the rig ashore a few times.
"They are quite disturbed," Drayton says, "kind of traumatised." The irony is that in urging us to move on from the murder, the biography has to rehash it. Either way there will be a wave of reviews, interviews, plain old views. Does Drayton worry about what that might do to her formidable, fragile friend?