'The godfather of Australian crime fiction.'
When Todd Barnes, war veteran and popular drinking mate, leaves Cliff Hardy a tidy sum to find out who killed him, Hardy can hardly refuse - and he needs the money. Todd's widow and some of his cronies are not always cooperative, however, and it's hard to tell friends from enemies, especially when it comes to the mysterious Kevin O'Fearna, known as O'Fear.
Hardy's battered Falcon takes him from the familiar mean streets of Sydney to equally dangerous bushland, where he's on his own up against heavy odds. A not-unfamiliar situation for Sydney's most enduring private investigator.
Australian ``enquiry agent'' Cliff Hardy investigates the death of a trucking entrepreneur in this smartly paced caper. In a first-chapter twist, Hardy learns he's been offered the job via a note left posthumously by the victim, Barnes Todd, who has been killed in a car crash. Hardy has no idea what Todd suspected or why he himself was designated to look into the case, but in short order, he learns that Todd had been an accomplished painter and photographer whose works are worth a mint, that a U.S. Army captain had once sworn to kill him and that a business rival had been sending thugs to tear up the Todd industrial terminal. Hardy also finds out that Todd's last words in the hospital had been ``O'Fear,'' thereby leading him to a prison where Hardy's old friend, the shady Kevin O'Fearna, is awaiting trial. O'Fear, who persuades Hardy to put up his bail, is stabbed before his release; Hardy is persistently tailed; Todd's widow's house is ransacked. Is somebody after the art? Through one surprise after another, Corris ( Man in the Shadows ) reveals his red herrings and various truths about the many players in this engaging yarn.