Peter Corris






Allen & Unwin, December 2005
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Itís Federal election time in Australia and Private Investigator Cliff Hardy is unable to summon up any interest at all in the pronouncements and promises of politicians.

Cliff is approached by journalist Lou Kramer. She wants to write a tell-all biography about media personality Jonas Clement. Clement fronts a right-wing radio talk back show. Lou believes Clement is corrupt and wants to hire Cliff to find Billie, a drug addict and former stripper who claims to know the details. The trouble is, Clement also wants to find Billie, as does businessman Barclay Greaves. There has been bad blood between Clement and Greaves for some time and both men have heavies looking for her, including Clementís son who has developed a taste for violence.

Cliff decides the only way through unscathed is to set the various factions against each other and reveal some of the divided loyalties he comes across.

Tracking down Billie takes Hardy to the southwestern suburbs of Sydney where he seeks help from members of the Pacific Islander community. Once he finds Billie, Cliff has to try and save her, but does Billie want to be saved? What does she know about Clement? Is Lou Kramer being completely honest with Cliff about her motives for wanting Billie found?

Peter Corris is one of the stalwarts of Australian Crime fiction. His Cliff Hardy books have been published since 1980. SAVING BILLIE is the 29th novel in the series. Corris sets most of the series in and around Sydney, territory he knows well, and it shows in the books. Hardy is likeable and easy going and has a strong moral compass. Heís a wonderful friend and a formidable enemy. Heís not averse to breaking the rules, much to the exasperation of the friends he has in the police.

Although SAVING BILLIE is set against the backdrop of the 2004 Australian Federal election, a setting that had a lot of potential for Hardyís wise-cracking, cynical humour, for some reason the author seems to have passed on that opportunity and the election is very quickly relegated to the occasional mention, which was a little disappointing.

There is nothing new or groundbreaking about Cliff Hardy novels. They donít examine social issues; they donít attempt to change the genre. What they do is offer an entertaining and uncomplicated book. In that respect they are perfect for a light holiday read.

December 2005 review first published on Murder and Mayhem


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