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O'Fear : A Cliff Hardy Novel (1990)
Considering that the hard-boiled private eye novel is one of the distinctly American genres, it's perhaps surprising that one of the best current practitioners of the form is the Australian Peter Corris, with his detective, Cliff Hardy. If we forgive Hardy his affection for wine, which we'll assume is a cultural deal, and a long running relationship, which fortunately never quite achieved Susan Silvermanesque proportions, he's really quite traditional. Of course, it helps that Australia isn't all that different from America, particularly in terms of its cultural heritage. Corris has written 23 Cliff Hardy books, but they are not generally available in the U. S., which is a shame.
From what I've read of them, O'Fear is a fairly representative entry in the series, which is to say, it's quite good. Hardy is hired after an old friend dies in a car accident :
'Barnes Todd has left you some money.'
'To find out who murdered him.'
I sat back in the chair. Sackville unhooked
his glasses and set them down gently on top of the file.
'Ten thousand dollars. His wife's not too happy about it.'
Hardy learns that with Todd's last breath he gasped the word : "O'Fear..." He recognizes this enigmatic phrase as the beginning of the name of a notorious, but relatively harmless, scoundrel named O'Fearna, who is currently in jail, awaiting trial. His bail just happens to be $10,000.
And he's off...sexy widows, unsavory secrets, random corpses, brutal henchmen, crooked lawyers, the whole nine yards. But what makes the book a real throwback is Hardy's vulnerability :
...I had strewn the contents of my wallet across
the desk. I looked at the credit cards and the
If Corris does not quite have the comedic chops of a Robert B. Parker or a Robert Crais, he more than compensates by restoring the dramatic tension of a hero who is truly a lone knight, who can be hurt, even killed, and who has no one he can really trust.
This is good stuff, in a classic vein. Read him, if you can find the books.
-AUTHOR SITE: Peter Corris Homepage
-REVIEW: of Deep Water by Peter Corris (Shane Maloney, Inside Story)
Book-related and General Links:
-ESSAY : Greatest hits (PETER CORRIS, July 28, 2000, Sydney Morning Herald)
-EXCERPT : from Solomon's Solutions by Peter Corris
-Cliff Hardy Created by Peter Corris (Thrilling Detective)
-Peter Corris (D. Reynolds)
-Peter Corris (Stop You're Killing Me)
-TRANSCRIPT : Diabetes epidemic touches 1 million with Peter Corris (7:30 Report)
-PROFILE : Peter Corris : Diabetes-fact not fiction (People Focus)
-PROFILE : A Round of Golf : 18 Holes with Peter Corris (Steve Samuelson, City Search)
-REVIEW : of Arizona Dawn by Peter Corris (Scott Beattie, Monash University)
-REVIEW : of Sweet and Sour - A Diabetic Life by Peter Corris (Mary Anne Patton)
-REVIEW : of Petro Pirates - The Hijacking of the Petro Ranger, by Captain Ken Blyth with Peter Corris (PAUL LOFTUS, , Law Society Journal)
-AWARD : 1999 NED KELLY AWARDS : Lifetime Achievement
Other Cliff Hardy Mysteries by Peter Corris :