HE’S STOICAL, PRAGMATIC, DESPISES BULLIES, AND LIVES BY A STRICT CODE
code. One of its tenets is to protect the weak and vulnerable. Thus, when the unlovely Twizell is abducted by the Tanners, Hardy feels morally obliged to rescue him. Mobile phones are also subject to the code: no texting while talking. What’s not to like here?
Sure, to this Perth girl it’s a trifle blokey and Sydney-centric, although it’s also interesting to note the centrifugal force that pushes most of the action away from the harbour city to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. But there’s something endearing about Hardy that transcends such divisions. For one thing, while he can handle himself in a stoush, he is not a mindless thug who metes out violence to all and sundry.
On the contrary, he seems to have imbibed something of his creator’s quiet intelligence. He enjoys reading — Conrad and Trollope but not Henry James — likes music (the blues), and admires Lionel Murphy, radical Whitlamera Labor MP and dissenting voice of the High Court. That single statement speaks volumes about the character.
A five-time winner of the Ned Kelly award for best crime novel, author and academic Corris deftly weaves together the strands of a busy plot before giving the whole skein a final breathtaking twist. But what lifts it out of the ordinary is his wry social commentary, keen insight into human nature and spare vernacular prose. It’s an effective medium for Hardy who, in true pulp fiction style, narrates his own story. Only one question remains. Is Sydney really a great city?