I had previously read at least one early book by Peter Corris, borrowed from the library, but it was so long ago I can’t remember anything about it. And in 2010 (how time flies!) I read The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender by Marele Day.
I’d bought the Marele Day book when she gave a talk to my university writing class, but didn’t get around to reading it until many years later.
As far as I can recall they are the only examples of Australian crime fiction I’ve read.*
Until now my newly found interest in crime fiction has been with British authors. I decided to take this detour when I found Corris’s Open File in second hand shop.
At first I wasn’t sure whether I was enjoying the book. It was quite a departure from my recent reading, and it took several chapters to get used to the different kind of “voice”.
The main character, Cliff Hardy, is a private detective and I suspect the style leans towards some of the old American private eye books (a view based on assumption considering I’ve never read any of those American books – but with a strong Australian flavour. My initial reservations were pushed aside the further I got into the story, and as the complications to Hardy’s seemingly simple case started to increase.
Hardy is recruited to track down the missing son of a businessman, two years after the late teen’s unsolved disappearance. A simple (though cold) missing person’s case leads to murder, organised crime and corruption in high places, and Hardy’s contacts on both sides of the legal fence have to be called upon to find the answers he’s look for.
One of the things that makes Corris’s writing appeal to me is the familiarity of the settings in and around Sydney, having lived and worked there myself for more than a decade. In many cases I can visualise the locations, such as Hyde Park, where I often sat to eat lunch when I worked in the city centre.
*I suppose I could also include Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Noah’s Law, read earlier this year.