The infamous Parker–Hulme murder case inspired this frightening tale of adolescent transgression in an English seaside town. When a thirteen-year-old girl returns from boarding school to her small hometown in Merseyside for summer break, her best friend, Harriet, is not back yet, and she's restless, anxious for something—anything—to happen. In this state of troubled anticipation, she visits the beach and encounters Peter Biggs, an elegant yet disheveled man in the throes of middle age and an unhappy marriage. A stirring inside of the budding woman makes her feel irresistibly attracted to this man . . . and simultaneously repulsed. But she doesn't dare do anything about it until Harriet arrives. One year older and much more mischievous, Harriet returns to find her friend in a state of confused obsession. The two girls hatch a plan to "humble" Biggs. At Harriet's command they proceed to methodically spy on him and his wife, manipulate his desires, and ensnare him in an act of incriminating humiliation, all on the premise that this will be their most daring summer yet. But the power these young women possess is perhaps more sinister and unwieldy than anyone realizes. Award-winning British author Beryl Bainbridge's first novel, Harriet Said is loosely based on the Parker–Hulme teenage murder case in New Zealand dramatized in the Kate Winslet film Heavenly Creatures. It was originally completed in 1958; however, editors were so scandalized by its gruesome and amoral content that the book was not published until 1972. It has since become a horror classic.
by Beryl Bainbridge
Sign up for our email newsletter