The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

through time is what in­ter­ests me,’’ he says.

No other writer has con­ceived such a char­ac­ter or set­ting so strongly rooted in lo­cal feel­ing through so many books. Dur­ing the past 25 years, Cor­ris has given us per­haps our most per­sis­tent lit­er­ary im­pres­sion of Syd­ney, not al­ways flat­ter­ing.

It wasn’t a con­scious thing at the be­gin­ning, but it is now,’’ he says.

Cor­ris says he is writ­ing Hardy No. 34. It comes a bit more slowly and per­haps with a bit more need to go back a chap­ter or two and make a nip and tuck to fit.’’ He gives the im­pres­sion that, like Hardy, he just plods along with a cer­tain mod­esty, a nosy guy who likes to move into other peo­ple’s lives, then move on so he won’t be in­trud­ing.

Ross Macdon­ald, the great Cal­i­for­nian crime writer whose Lew Archer se­ries in­flu­enced Cor­ris, said that ‘‘ a private de­tec­tive is just a kind of in­vented shadow of the nov­el­ist at work’’. It’s a quote that amuses Cor­ris. ‘‘ Some events in Hardy’s life re­flect those in mine, but fil­tered through the re­quire­ments of the genre,’’ he says. If any­one was crazy enough to try they’d find the con­nec­tions: di­vorce, stop­ping smok­ing, jog­ging, al­co­hol con­cerns and eye prob­lems.’’

Th­ese days a weary wis­dom trav­els with hero and au­thor. Hardy’s old Fal­con has seen many kilo­me­tres in the long haul to dis­prove the one- time as­sump­tion of Aus­tralian pub­lish­ers, writ­ers and read­ers that the hard- boiled mys­tery field was cred­i­ble only in Amer­i­can set­tings. Like his hero Cliff Hardy, Cor­ris just keeps go­ing, , as unim­pressed and charm­ingly non­cha­lant as his hero. Cor­ris has seen off the new wave and the post­mod­ern, the grant­tak­ing dilet­tantes, the se­rial killer story and left the les­bian sep­a­ratist de­tec­tives be­hind, ex­as­per­ated by his la­conic style.

Robert B. Parker, cre­ator of the lon­grun­ning Spenser mys­ter­ies, said of his ur­bane Bos­ton sleuth that he would never write a finale. His end will be co­in­ci­den­tal with mine,’’ he said. I can see Cliff Hardy lift­ing a glass of red in agree­ment, his cre­ator still in his chair, fin­gers on the key­board.

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