03 March 2008

Open File

by Peter Corris

Allen & Unwin. Crime, Mystery, Australian. Paperback rrp $19.95

Is this the last of Peter Corris’ Cliff Hardy novels? In Open File, Cliff Hardy is packing up his office, his Private Enquiry Agent licence had been cancelled and an appeal rejected. With money inherited, Cliff has a plane ticket taking him overseas - to do a bit of sightseeing, meet old friends and work out what his next step will be. Opening a drawer he comes across an “open file”. He reminisces about the story that created such a large wad of paperwork.

Over 20 years previously, Peter Hampshire came to Cliff asking him to investigate his son Justin’s disappearance. It’s a strange set of circumstances. Peter had been overseas for a number of years and the now nineteen-year-old Justin and his car had been missing for over 2 years. Peter hoped to reconcile with his son’s mother and, thought that looking like he was trying to find his son, would hold him in good stead. But why didn’t he come back to Australia when Justin first went missing? And why was Peter suddenly so eager to reconcile with his ex-wife?

What Cliff initially thought was either a case of a boy running away to become a soldier or escaping from the military that his father wanted him to join, becomes a story of Sydney criminals, corrupt politicians, and murder. Cliff uncovers a web of family secrets and underworld nastiness.

Does this Open File become Closed? All I can say is read the book – it only took me 24 hours to close the back cover!

Peter Corris is definitely a Sydney boy and his descriptions of Sydney and surrounding areas in the 1980’s brings back a little nostalgia and memory. I even thought I might have been at some of the locations at the very same time as Cliff!

If Cliff Hardy really does pack up and head overseas I hope he finds more mystery and mayhem on his travels. I want more Cliff Hardy books to read!

Editors Note: Peter Corris’ novel The Big Score was reviewed in Issue 4 of The Reading Stack.


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