After practising as a barrister in Hong Kong for thirty years, Peter Graham, since returning to New Zealand, has had two books published. The first, Vile Crimes, examines the notorious Timaru poisoning case of 1886, described by the New Zealand Herald as “murderously good … a pacy narrative and a study in pathological selfishness “. The second, So Brilliantly Clever, studies the “ Hume- Parker “ murder of 1954, more simply remembered by older Cantabrians as “ the two girls… up at Victoria Park… “. This terrible crime Graham found “ somehow embedded in the soil of Christchurch, as much a part of local history as the pilgrims who, a century earlier, had footed it over the bridle path from Lyttelton, the men in frock coats, the women in crinolines …”
Particularly pleasing to the writer were the comments of Willie Young reviewing So Brilliantly Clever for The Press: “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 expressed. A good read.”
Now, he is making good progress with something completely different: a study of the life and times of the great (but not uncontroversial) Ngāi Tahu chief, Te Mātanga Taiaroa.