HE’S STO­ICAL, PRAG­MATIC, DE­SPISES BUL­LIES, AND LIVES BY A STRICT CODE

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Anne Part­lon

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?

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