CLIFF HARDY SERIES

 

Peter Corris is best know for his detective fiction series featuring Private Investigator Cliff Hardy.


Cliff Hardy, born and raised in working class Maroubra, ex-army, law student dropout, insurance company investigator turned Private Eye, has a love-hate relationship with his time and place. He embraces the best aspects of Australian life - the tolerance, the classlessness, the vigorous urban and rural culture - while despising the greed and the conservatism that are constantly threatening to undercut what he sees as "real Australia".


Inevitably drawn into the ambit of the people he deplores, Hardy struggles to resolve his cases while remaining true to his own threatened values. The professional challenges spill over into his personal life where he is never on firm ground.


Below is a listing of all the novels and books of short stories in the Cliff Hardy series, including a summary of each book.

Latest title - 2013


SILENT KILL


Politics, murder and sex push Hardy to the limit.


When Cliff Hardy signs on as a bodyguard for charismatic populist Rory O’Hara, who is about to embark on a campaign of social and political renewal, it looks like a tricky job - O’Hara has enemies. A murder and a kidnapping soon cause the campaign to fall apart.


Hired to investigate the murder, Hardy uncovers hidden agendas among O’Hara’s staff as well as powerful political and commercial forces at work. His investigation takes him from the pubs and brothels of Sydney to the heart of power in Canberra and the outskirts of Darwin. There he teams up with a resourceful indigenous private detective and forms an uneasy alliance with the beautiful Penelope Marinos, formerly O’Hara’s PA.


A rogue intelligence agent becomes his target and Hardy stumbles upon a terrible secret that draws them into a violent - and disturbing - confrontation.



Earlier Hardy titles...













The Dunbar Case

This wasn’t Hardy’s usual brief - uncover the mysteries of a nineteenth-century shipwreck - but he could do with an easy case and the retainer was generous.

But is it ever that simple? Not with a notorious crime family tearing itself apart, and an undercover cop playing both sides against the middle. These and an alluring but fiercely ambitious female journalist give Hardy all the trouble he can handle.

‘Ever feel manipulated?’ Hardy asks. The body count mounts up as he pushes closer to the truth about the mystery and the loot.












Comeback

(first published 2012)

Cliff Hardy has his licence back - but does he still have what it takes to cut it as a PI on the streets of Sydney?  Cliff reckons the skills are still there, if a little rusty, and actor Bobby Forrest's case looks promising.  As well as a complex client who may not be all he seems, the players include his compelling lover, a rejected, threatening woman and various media power brokers.

When Bobby is killed Hardy becomes the client of his father, a man with a shady past and his own problems with the law. A range of suspects and motives  test Hardy's  powers, as his investigations take him  through inner Sydney, the city's west, the central coast and the Wollondilly Plains. He encounters prostitutes, corporate movers and shakers, cops, and a would-be golf guru. A media magnate's kick-boxing assistant poses a threat and only Hardy's experience, resilience, and persistence bring him to a shock understanding of what it has all been about.




Follow the Money

(first published 2011)

"When beautiful young women kiss you on the the cheek you know you're over the hill, but I didn't really feel like that.  As Wesley said, I still had the moves.'

Cliff Hardy may still have the moves but he's in trouble.  The economy's tanking and he's been conned by an unscrupulous financial advisor and lost everything he's got.  Cliff only knows one way, and that's forward, so he's following the money trail.  It's a twisted road that leads him down deep into Sydney's underbelly, into the territory of big money, bent deals, big yachts and bad people.

Cliff's in greater danger than every before, but he's as tenacious as a dog with a bone.




Torn Apart

(first published 2010)

Hardy has never been much of a family man, so when he meets his second cousin Patrick Malloy it’s like being hit with a left hook to the solar plexus – Malloy is his double. Cliff and his cousin become friends and head overseas to attend a gathering of the Irish Travellers – the gypsy-like folk from which they are descended. On their return, a shotgun blast shatters their camaraderie. But who was the shot aimed at, Malloy or Hardy? Any why is Malloy’s ex-wife sheila, now making her presence known to Hardy?

Hardy has his enemies and Malloy’s to consider as he searches for a killer. Clues point in many directions – to Sheila’s motives, to Malloy’s suspect business dealings, to old scores being settled. The search takes Hardy to a paramilitary training camp and to a meeting of Traveller descendants in Kangaroo Valley; everyone seems to have an interest and the playing style is ruthless.

Hardy is de-licenced and out of work … but this investigation is personal.




Deep Water

(first published 2009)

Stripped of his private detective licence and devastated by the murder of his partner Lily Truscott, Cliff Hardy travels to the US to help Lily's brother's tilt for a world boxing title. In San Diego he suffers a heart attack and undergoes a quadruple bypass. He mets nurse Margaret McKinley, an expatriate Australian who is concerned about the disappearance in Sydney of her father, renowned geologist Dr Henry McKinley.

Hardy takes on the investigation, and it turns out that McKinley had discovered a way to tap into the massive Sydney basin aquifer, a possible solution to the city's water problems. Working with Margaret and his daughter Megan, Hardy confronts an old enemy as well as the opposing force of big business bent on exploiting the discovery - and prepared to kill for it.

Energise by the case and by his attachment to Margaret, Hardy obeys the strict rules for the restoration of his health - but in pursuing the truth and the malefactors, he makes his own rules.




Open File

(first published 2008)

Cliff Hardy, with his PI licence cancelled and his career in Sydney at an end, is preparing for a trip overseas. Cleaning out his office, he comes across an open file - an unresolved case from the late 1980s*. He starts reading and is thrown back to his investigation of the disappearance of Justin Hampshire. At first glance it was a straightforward missing person matter, but the investigation took on twists and turns involving military history, Sydney criminals and corruption at high levels. To solve the Hampshire case Cliff had to travel from the south coast to the Blue Mountains. Thirty years later, unresovled questions about the file still prey on his mind.

*N.B. Blurb on published version says "late 1970s" - this is incorrect.




The Big Score: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 2007)

In this new collection of shot stories, Cliff Hardy has his hands full with murder, blackmail, embezzlement and more. True to form, Cliff doesn't waste words or pull punches as he untangles an ugly divorce, investigates the killing of a Glebe drinking buddy, and takes care of a nasty case of blackmail. The eleven tales are set in Cliff's Sydney, a place with no shortage of thugs, mid-morning beers and crooked cops.




Appeal Denied

(first published 2007)

Stripped of his investigator's licence and with his appeal denied, Cliff Hardy faces an uncertain future. Then something very personal happens that sends him off doing what he does best - confronting, questioning, provoking violence - with his lack of credentials not an issue.

Is policewoman Jane Farrow bent or straight? Will vertically challenged but charismatic media star Lee Townsend be a help or an obstacle? Taking and dealing out punishment, mostly on Sydney's North Shore, Hardy encounters corrupt cops, bereft wives and computer geeks. In a showdown at Balmoral Beach, Hardy sorts out those who need to be sorted, but his future remains even more clouded than before.




The Undertow

(first published 2006)

Frank Parker, retired senior policeman and Cliff Hardy’s longtime friend, has a problem. A case from early in his career involving two doctors, one of whom was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill the other and went to gaol for the crime, is coming back to haunt him. The convicted, now dead doctor may have been innocent, and Parker had been the lover of the beautiful Catherine Castiglione, the doctor’s wife.

Hardy tracks back through the now ageing names and faces, trying to tease out the truth. If the doctor was set up, who was responsible and why? Along the way Hardy encounters dodgy plastic surgeons, a broken-down ex-copper, a voyeuristic cripple and a hireling who wields a mean baseball bat.

A charismatic player is the son of Catherine Castiglione, a super-bright charmer, who just may be Frank Parker’s love child. Animosities, arrogance and ambition create a spider’s web around the violence that breaks out as Hardy searches for the spider.




Saving Bille

(first published 2005)

When journalist Louise Kramer hires Cliff Hardy to find Billie Marchant, Hardy heads for unfamiliar territory of the far southwestern suburbs of Sydney. Billie claims to have information about media big-wheel Jonas Clement - the subject of an incriminating expose by Kramer. Clement doesn't want Billie found and Clement's enemies want to find her first.

Hardy tracks Billie down, but 'saving Billie' means not only rescuing her, it means saving her from herself. Billie, ex-stripper, sometime hooker and druggie, is a handful. Hardy gets help from members of the Pacific islander community and others, but the enemies close in and he is soon fighting on several different fronts.

Clement and his chief rival, Barclay Greaves, have heavies in the field, and Hardy has to negotiate his way through their divided loyalties. Some negotiations involve cunning but others involve guns. The action takes place against the backdrop of the Federal election campaign, and all outcomes are uncertain.




Taking Care of Business: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 2004)

Cliff Hardy is no financial genius. But in Taking Care of Business he pursues white-collar crime with the same doggedness he applies to his more downmarket villains.

Hardy's tasks are many and his clients are from all walks of life. He is minder for Thomas Whitney, the highly strung whistleblower, whose company is siphoning money off through Vanuatu. He is hired by computer genius Charles Marriott, whose shady dot com partner wants the control of the business and is letting nothing and no one get in his way. And ever keen for some spare cash, he even takes a case from Spiro, his local florist, whose son seems to be involved in some very dodgy business involving tobacco and big bucks.

This collection of stories featuring Australia's favourite PI is fast-paced and entertaining. It reads in the best Corris style.




The Coast Road

(first published 2004)

Wealthy Frederick Farmer died when his weekender burned to the ground. Death by accident, the police found. But his daughter, Dr Elizabeth Farmer, a feisty academic who resembles the younger Germaine Green, hires Cliff Hardy to investigate. Is her only motive jealousy of her father's attractive second wife, now very rich?

Hardy's search takes hims from the Illawarra escarpment to Wollongong and Port Kembla, and the police are far from co-operative as he tries to unravel the truth. He has his hands full when a panic-stricken call leads to a second case - the search for the precocious daughter of Marisha Karatsky, an exotic, dark-eyed interpreter who gets well and truly under Hardy's guard.

Hardy has narrow escapes and people die as his probing hits nerves. Corrupt cops, compromised insurance agents, feral bikies as well as a few good guys are drawn into the maelstrom. Hardy battles on through personal turmoil and vicious opposition with all outcomes uncertain and justice a remote ideal




Master's Mates

(first published 2003)

When rich, attractive Lorraine Master hires Cliff Hardy to investigate the circumstances surrounding her husband's conviction for smuggling heroin from New Caledonia, Hardy welcomes the assignment. A week on generous expenses sniffing about under the tropical sky, escape from a cold, dry spell in Sydney - just the job. But Stewart Master's mates in Noumea prove to be a difficult and dangerous bunch.

The danger follows Hardy back to Sydney where he and his client become targets when an intricate conspiracy goes seriously wrong. Hardy deals with a tricky lawyer, a man on the run and Sydney's most corrupt ex-cop. He has allies as well, but in the end his survival will depend on his own guts, experience and savvy.




Salt & Blood

(first published 2002)

I reached gingerly to the back of my head and felt the blood in my hair and the tenderness underneath it. How do they check if a footballer's concussed? Ask him if knows what day it is. I thought I did. I was pretty sure.

An old flame, Glen Withers, has come back into Cliff Hardy's life - but this time it's strictly business.

Former policewoman Glen is now a PI too, and with a much classier clientele than Cliff's - she's been told 'money's no object' by her latest, a wealthy family from Sydney's eastern suburbs. Together, Cliff and Glen take on the case of Rodney St John Harkness, recent inmate of a mental institution and a recovering alcoholic with a murky, possibly murderous, history. But Glen is also a recovering alcoholic - and the combination proves disastrous.

When Rod and Glen vanish, Hardy finds himself in a race against time to untangle Harkness' tortured past and find the pair. The trail leads up to the central coast and some of Sydney's best known beaches. Will Cliff be in time, or will the 'salty tang of blood' fill the air?




Lugarno

(first published 2001)

I was about to punch in the number when a man loomed up beside me. When I say loomed I mean loomed - he was tall and wide with a shaven head, and the pale hand that plucked the mobile from my grasp and threw it away was super-sized.
'Hey,' I protested.
He just stood there, a pace away now - a hundred kilos of bone and muscle in T-shirt and jeans. I had a gun and a tyre iron and I thought I'd need both to make an impression on him, but they were in the car. For now, it was just me.

When it's only 24 hours into a new case and PI Cliff Hardy's already been heavied, you know that the job is going to get his full attention. Cliff has been hired by high-flying consultant Martin Price to find out who's been supplying heroin to Price's teenage daughter - who in turn has got her beautiful young stepmother hooked.

The leafy, well-heeled suburb of Lugarno seems an unlikely hotbed of drug-dealing and corruption, but Cliff is finding out the hard way that crime and violence come calling even at posh waterside addressed.




The Other Side of Sorrow

(first published 1999)

Corruption, murder and a missing girl: routine for Cliff Hardy - except this time it's personal.

Cliff Hardy is stunned to get a phone call from his ex-wife Cynthia. It's been over 20 years since she last shouted she never wanted to see him again... and she was never a woman to change her mind. But that surprise is nothing to the bombshell Cynthia is about to drop. Dying of cancer, she's desperate to get in contact with the daughter she gave up for adoption - and the daughter in question, she confesses, is Cliff's!

A shocked but sceptical Cliff agrees to search for their missing daughter. But this is never going to be a straightforward investigation...




The Black Prince

(first published 1998)

Sex, sport and steroids - an explosive mix.

They called him the Black Prince. Southwestern Uni's top athlete, Clinton seemed to have it all: he was destined for sporting stardom and lucky in love - then it all went terribly wrong.

Now Clinton won't rest until he's avenged his girlfriend's death. He's after the dealer who sold Angie bad steroids and nothing's going to get in his way. Can Cliff Hardy find him before he ends up on a murder charge - or dead? The trail leads the Sydney PI all the way to an Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland and back to the shadowy world of illegal boxing.




The Reward

(first published 1997)

With his PEA licence restored and strapped for cash, Cliff Hardy is reluctantly drawn into a scheme to claim the reward on a 17-year-old abduction case.

Hardy is distracted by a hot new lover, but when one of the schemers ends up dead, the case gets his full attention. Who paid the cops to suppress the ransom note and how come they're always one step ahead of Hardy?




Forget Me if You Can: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 1997)

Even when he's not involved in a major case, PI Cliff Hardy's life is far from routine.

In these stories a whistleblower is himself betrayed, a son turns against his father, brothers feud, men are harassed by women, and things are never quite what they seem... Whether on the familiar streets of Sydney or out of town, Hardy's cases don't always have tidy endings - and sometimes he has to take the law into his own hands.




The Washington Club

(first published 1997)

The Washington Club takes Cliff Hardy, Australia's favourite PI, to the edge. He might never work again

Claudia Fleischman is beautiful, rich, itelligent... and has just been charged with the murder of her developer husband.

Hardy, hired to look into the background of the case, is soon up to his neck in trouble. When his car is blown up and then a friend is killed, Cliff finds himself with a personal stake in the action. His investigations introduce him to the shadowy world of corporate high-fliers at Sydney's exclusive Washington Club and bring him into contact with loose canon 'Haitch' Henderson and his soft but unpleasant pimp of a son, Noel.

In one of his grittiest cases ever, Hardy has to take drastic action before the peices fall into place and very rough justice is seen to be done.




Casino

(first published 1994)

Cliff Hardy is flattered to be offered the job as head of security at the new Sydney casion. But the thought of office hours and wearing a suit put him off and her refuses in facour of his friend, Scot Galvani.

When Galvani is murdered and the police are indifferent and the widow pleads with Hardy to help, how can he refuse?

In the course of his investigation he takes the job at the casino, meets the attractive but unpredictable Vita Drewe and adds to his list of enemies. Galvani's killers are closer to home than Hardy anticipated; his life is on the line and so is his relationship with Glen Withers.




Matrimonial Causes

(first published 1993)

'Tell me about your first case Cliff. You must remember it.'
'Sure, but Christ, I haven't thought of that in a long, long time.'
'What was it about?'
'Back then? Divorce - what else? But there was a bit of perjury, fraud and murder as well.'

The early 70s, and in Cliff Hardy's first case there were perjury, fraud, murder, crooked cops, lawyers, PIs and a call girl - scarcely an honest citizen in sight.

Hardy was caught in the middle with a client he couldn't trust and nothing but questions for guidelines. In the end his survival became more important than the answers.




Burn: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 1993)

This collection of stores finds Cliff Hardy in his usual milieu of inner Sydney mixing with the good, the bad and the quirky as he works on his cases.

With his wisecracks and fists in readiness, Hardy goes about his daily business of tracking delinquent arsonists, hired killers and missing girlfriends, protecting eye surgeons and radio announcers, solving old crimes and helping past acquaintances in the underworld.

Always on the outside, but his sympathies with the underdog, Hardy's cases are never what they seem and his solutions are not always what the client expects. All in all, normal time for Cliff Hardy but a great deal more for his readers.




Beware of the Dog

(first published 1992)

The woman was dangerous, even over the phone. Cliff Hardy knew he should have listened to his instincts when he first met Paula Wilberforce.

Instead he becomes embroiled in a high-society family full of old rivalries and hatred, his gun is stolen and he is wanted in relation to a shooting.

He has to find the answers quickly, before the murderer strikes again. The only lead he has is a mutilated photograph. Whose face is it? And what are those strange shadows in the background?




Aftershock

(first published 1992)

When Oscar Bach's body was found crushed under rubble, his death was classified as another tragic statistic of the Newcastle earthquake. So how could he have been seen alive five minutes after the quake? Who would want this man dead?

Oscar's quiet life was not all that is appeared to be. He was a man with no apparent past. But something and someone has caught up with him now, and they are trying to stop Cliff Hardy finding the answers.

Hardy thought he needed the work, but did he need it this badly?




Wet Graves

(first published 1991)

Someone's trying to cancel Cliff Hardy's licence, and he needs to find out why.

He also has to work out why the case of missing schoolteacher Brian Madden keeps leading him back over fifty years to the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Finding the answers takes all his contacts - police, underworld and press - and keeps Hardy moving across Sydney, asking questions, probing the past... and finding the bodies.




O'Fear

(first published 1990)

Everybody liked Barnes Todd: Korean War veteran, slightly dodgy businessman, good drinking mate. When he was wiped out in a car sout of Sydney, people were lining up to say how sorry they were. Head of the queue was Todd's widow Felicia, closely followed by his business and army cronies.

So how did a simple car accident suddenly become a murder?

Cliff Hardy hadn't a clue, but business in the private eye game was slow, so he agreed to try and find out. And quickly came into contact with a lot of less-than-lovely people... especially the enigmatic Kevin O'Fearna, known as O'Fear.




Man in the Shadows: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 1988)

Gareth Grenway wasn't all he seemed, but Cliff Hardy was used to that. What he wasn't used to was the shadowy world Greenway leads him into: neurosurgeons, mental patients, AIDS sufferes, all negotiating a landscape of dreams and delusions. An old firend of Hardy's ends up dead while Hardy chases the shadows, catching some, losing others.

The accompanying stories find Hardy on more familiar ground. When organised crime, political corruption and the Australian army are involved, Hardy battles the odds. But when it comes to a man-to-man contest, put your money on Hardy to win.




The January Zone

(first published 1987)

Politician Peter January is having trouble staying alive so he hires Cliff Hardy to help him. Hardy dislikes the role of politician's 'security consultant' but he dislikes bombers, hitmen and hate-mailers even more.

Protecting January leads to protecting his assistant, Trudie Bell, which is a more enjoyable assignment. It also takes Hardy to Washington DC where the threats are real and the rules are different.

To stnad close to January is to stand close to danger and corruption, but there are even greater evils and Hardy cannot back away...




Deal Me Out

(first published 1986)

Cliff Hardy starts out to help a friend but before long he's looking for an enemy - William Mountain: a boozer, TV scriptwriter, would-be novelist who is missing and searching for adventure. Mountain's adventure is Hardy's 'case' which rapidly becomes a case he would rather not have. Mountain is the dealer in a deadly game and the hands he deals become more and more bizarre...




The Greenwich Apartments

(first published 1986)

Is brilliant young film maker Carmel Wise the innocent victim of gangland violence or is she enmeshed in a pornography racket as the press and the police imply? Carmel's businessman father hires Cliff Hardy to find the real reason 'the video girl' was shot dead outside the Greenwich Apartments in Kings Cross.

Hardy follows a trail which is broken but clear - houses and flats, with the power on and the rent paid, stand empty; photographs and other document lead to Lionel Darcy, owner of the Champagne Cabaret; banks and business houses will supply just enough information to keep Hardy warm.

The tail takes him to the sunny perninsula, leafy Lane Cove and the industrial waterfront. Hardy finds that every question and every answer had to be paid for in pain and fear. nd to some questions there may be no answers at all...




The Big Drop: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 1985)

A client happends to fall from the twentieth story of a building; a rock star goes missing; an erotic Mongol scroll vanishes; a film star has a problem that has nothing to do with creativity - it's all in a day's work for Cliff Hardy.

Yachts dance on the sparkling waters of the harbour, and the back alleys are busy; the city's high and low classes go about their daily business. But nothing really surprises Hardy; and, for a hundred and twenty-five a day (plus expenses), he'll provide a few surprises of his own...




Make Me Rich

(first published 1985)

Cliff Hardy is at the party to look after the paintings and throw out the drunks - gently.

But there he meets Helen Broadway, who interests him; and Paul Guthrie, who wants Hardy to look for his stepson, Ray.

Hardy delves into the sleazy Kings Cross backstreets and lowdown pubs, following a twisting path laid by a hitman, a criminal with heavy political protection, and a seedy alcoholic member of his own profession. There's scarcely enough time for Helen Broadway, interesting though she still is.

Hardy pushes on to final confrontation. It's rough: the guns are out, and the odds are no help...




Heroin Annie: Cliff Hardy cases

(first published 1984)

He's a one-man army for $125 a day, plus expenses, and Hardy was finding his fee harder to earn all the time.

From reformed junkies to high fashion models, from radical politics to corporate, every type of face with every type of problem eventually walked through Hardy's door. But on thing was for sure: Hardy would get lied to, punched out, shot at, and merely ignored before he could give his clients satisfaction...




The Empty Beach

(first published 1983)

It began as a routine investigation into a supposed drowning. But Cliff Hardy, private detective, soon found himself literally fighting for his life in the murky, violent underworld of Bondi.

The truth about John Singer, black marketeer and poker machine king, is out there somewhere - amidst the drug addicts and prostitutes and alcoholics. Hardy's job is to stay alive long enough in that world of easy death to get to the truth.

The truth hurts...




The Marvellous Boy

(first published 1982)

It's no secret that the people who hire Hardy have nowhere else to turn.

Take Lady Catherine Chatterton, widow of the eminent judge. She's desperate to hand down the mantle of her husband's legal reign (not to mention the money) to someone more deserving than her boozy daughter Bettina.

So she hires Hardy to find her missing grandson - a tall order considering the only evidence of the young man's existence came two years earlier from an aging drunk. Funny thing - when Hardy finds that drunk there is a helpful photograph... and within the hour, the drunk is dead. Now Hardy's on a murder case.




White Meat

first published 1981)

He needs a nice smooth job, something to pay the bills - and keep his glass filled.

But smooth this one isn't. Ted Tarleton is a very rich bookie whose beautiful, spoiled daughter, Noni, is missing. Tarleton wants Hardy to find her. The logical place to start is with Noni's boyfriend, but the actor has long since ceased to keep tabs on her.

So Hardy makes for seedy La Perouse, where the local aboriginals recognise Noni's photo. She's the one they call "white meat". And Hardy will take more than a few blows as he follows her into the violent wreckage of her own past...




The Dying Trade

(first published 1980)

Hardy needs work. In fact, he's the type of detective who never turns down a case. He can't afford to.

So when wealthy Bryn Gutteridge, a real estate heir who amuses himself by shooting seagulls, asks Hardy to find out who has been threatening his twin sister, Susan, the private eye agrees.

And finds himself on a case that turns more brutal every day. First Gutteridge's butler is murdered. Then his pretty young stepmother is badly beaten. Hardy himself takes a few punches. And before long it's hard to tell the victims from the villains.