I took quite a while to finish this book as the author went in really deep on this (he’s most certainly not the first to write about the girls, hence he had a lot of referencing to do). I can’t recall whether he wasn’t born yet or whether he was a toddler when the murder took place, but the author hails from New Zealand and is a lawyer who was (is?) based in Hong Kong when he began writing this book. It was mentioned somewhere in the foreword.
The author made a lot of references to the girls’ diaries, often citing old movies and literature which were favored by the girls. Bear in mind all these were in the early 1950s, so even if you’re familiar with WW2, it’s not enough. The references to WW2, the cold, bitter weather, South Africa, the state the families were in (post-war), probably took up less than 5% of the book. I say this because I am (indefinitely) not into classic literatures, thrillers, plays… Well, generally the sort of things that were heavily described throughout the book.
I didn’t have much difficulty reading the book, the prose wasn’t ‘old English’, but I did bump into dry bits where I couldn’t relate to at all, as the girls were really into fiction and imaginary characters plus stuff people who enjoy Romeo and Juliet might be able to connect with.
Other facts were okay and informative, such as mental illness in the 1950s, the court battles, family predicaments. The best takeaway, for me, were within the last few chapters, where the author attempted to analyze how the girls were raised by their mothers – the abandonment, the resentment, the shortcomings between mother and daughter relationships etc. I did highlight a few passages. It made me cringe, as I myself, am a mother…
Would I recommend this book to anyone? I don’t know. None of my close friends who are bookworms are into true crime nor would they give a **** about these two murderesses. Don’t think they’ll bat an eyelid with Leopold and Loeb neither.
I gave 5 shining stars on Goodreads. Everything in the name of effort and details.
p.s. It seems that I didn’t write about the girls, the murder… What is there to write?