Friday, February 17, 2017

Troublesome/Evil Children Day on FFB

On the theme of evil children, my idea was to review THE BAD SEED, which I bought. But my terror of the story, based on the Patty McCormack movie, gave me a nightmare the first night. So I read THE EVIL FRIENDSHIP instead. Thanks to those who took the time to see out an evil child.

Here are some of the evil children we may have overlooked.

THE EVIL FRIENDSHIP, Vin Packer (reviewed by Patti Abbott)

This novel is based on the Parker-Hulme case in Australia in the sixties. There has been a movie (HEAVENLY CREATURES) and a non-fiction book and lots and lots of discussion about it over the years.

Two girls, given to flights of fancy and a budding lesbian relationship, kill a mother that gets in their way.

When one of the girls' mother decides to take her to America after the breakup of her marriage, the two hatch a plot that she will instead stay at her friend's house. When this doesn't work out, the two girls murder the recalcitrant mother that won't fall in with their plan.

This novel excels at creating the atmosphere of a school where close relationships are the norm. It also excels at showing how lonely girls could perhaps drift into a relationship that was not mutually desired. They bond over their fear and.mistrust of men, parents, and school mates. Their parents relief that they have found a friend allows them to overlook the sinister nature of the relationship. I am not talking about its lesbian aspect but rather the unleashing of a murderous plot.

The movie is able to romanticize these events a lot more than the book. It is a sad little story indeed.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for sending this book my way.

Bill Crider, ELEGY BEACH, Stephen Boyett
Jerry House, BAD RONALD, John Holbrook Vance
George Kelley, KING LEAR, William Shakespeare
B.V. Lawson, DEATH OF A MYSTERY WRITER, Robert Barnard
Todd Mason, THE LITTLE MONSTERS et seq. edited by Roger Elwood and/or Vic Ghidalia; stories by Jerome Bixby, Kit Reed, Damon Knight, "Matthew Gant" (Arnold Hano) and C. M. Kornbluth
J.F. Norris, THE SECRET KEEPER, Shirley Escapa
 James Reasoner, THE TWISTED THING, Mickey Spillane
TracyK, MILDRED PIERCE, James M. Cain

Sergio Angelini, PAINKILLER,  N.J. Fountain
Mark Baker, TRUNK MUSIC, Michael Connelly
Yvette Banek, SMALLBONE DECEASED, Michael Gilbert
Les Blatt, HALLOWEEN PARTY, Agatha Christie
Elgin Bleecker, DEATH WISH, Brian Garfield
Brian Busby, Helen Duncan
Martin Edwards, SOMEBODY AT THE DOOR, Raymond Postgate
Richard Horton, THE HELMUT OF NAVARRE, Bertha Runkle
Nick Jones, David Mazzucchelli
Margot Kinberg, THE HIDDEN MAN, Robin Blake
Evan Lewis, SHADOW COMICS 64-66
Steve Lewis, THE POISONERS, Donald Hamilton
THE RAP SHEET, Steven Nester, ANGELS, Denis Johnson
Kerrie Smith, WHAT REMAINS BEHIND, Dorothy Fowler
TomCat, DEATH AT THE DOG, Joanna Cannan


James Reasoner said...

The Spillane book I wrote about actually fits the theme, too. There aren't many children in his novels, but the kid in this one is a major part of the plot and is not what he seems at first.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Really like the sound of this Patti - I've only read one of the 'Vin Packer' books, but liked it a lot. I thought HEAVENLY CREATURES a terrific film at the cinema, though I have not ever watched it again.

Sorry I couldn't contribute to the theme of the meme today Patti but thanks for including me among the recalcitrants!

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, Maijane "Vin Packer" Meaker wasn't going to spin the potential lesbian aspect of the kids relation as sinister, so much as to subvert that kind of reading of it. There's plenty enough else that's sinister about the situation...

A book, like Matt's choice, I though I might finally read, but figured someone else was likely to highlight, and someone did!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, James.

Jeff Meyerson said...

And, of course, Juliet Hulme grew up and became mystery writer Anne Perry.

Glad you liked the book.

Deb said...

Beryl Bainbridge's HARRIETT SAID (published in 1972) is also based on the same murder that inspired this book and "Heavenly Creatures". I think adolescent girls--perhaps more so than boys--tend to develop those very intense friendships that can sometimes result in scary behavior. Folie-a-deux I think the French call it.


Chris said...

Donald Westlake expressed his admiration for 'Vin Packer' more than once (I would assume he knew the real name behind the pseudonym, don't know if he and Meaker were personally acquainted).

Her books as Packer are, like his of that general time period, written certain niches within the enormous paperback original market, but are not 'crime novels' in the hardboiled Hammet/Chandler/Spillane sense. Crimes occur, but it's set in the world of regular law-abiding citizens who go astray somehow, often because they're young and deluded.

5:45 to Suburbia reminded me quite a lot of Mad Men, which it substantially predates--mainly because Mad Men was a modern take on the old Man in the Gray Flannel Suit subgenre--stories of conflicted professionals dealing with office politics and personal relationships there, trying to remain themselves in a world that wants them to be cogs in a machine.

Some of her books can be a bit on the soapy side for me, too Peyton Place, though a lot darker than the original. Again, writing to the market, giving the publisher what it was asking for, and putting her own spin on it. I want to read more of her, find her best books.

I would assume at least some of the emotional context for The Evil Friendship came from her relationship with Patricia Highsmith. But I'd need to read more on that shared chapter in their lives, and for that matter, I'd need to read The Evil Friendship. I liked Heavenly Creatures, but yeah, it's a bit much. Like everything else Peter Jackson ever did.

Jerry House said...

How the book came to be: Anthony Boucher read an article about the murder and suggested to "Packer" that she write a book about it.

Yvette said...

My post is up FINALLY, Patti. Had a bit of trouble getting going this morning. Sorry I didn't remember about today's theme. :(

Anonymous said...

The Parker-Hulme case was in New Zealand in the 1950s. One of the girls, Juliet Hulme, later became a crime novelist under the name Anne Perry.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for the added info!

Jeff Meyerson said...

I already said that, at 10:04 am.

Todd Mason said...

But there was also Jerry's datum...wonder if Hulme/Perry will ever publish about that...though it's not a question I'd put to her without her prompting it.

Todd Mason said...

And not solely teen girls get to be follifying duo...

Anonymous said...

This was a great idea for a focus!

Cap'n Bob said...

No one mentioned The Small Assassin, by Ray Bradbury. It was a short story.

Al Tucher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenny Milchman said...

WISHING MAKES IT SO by Marilyn Meredith! Such a creeeepy child :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's new to me. Wil look for it!