Cliff Hardy is cleaning out his office after losing his Private Investigator's licence. He comes across a folder with the paperwork for a missing person's case going back to 1988, Australia's Bi-centennial year.
OPEN FILE is a look back at how Cliff did his job twenty years ago. It is remarkable to note just how much technology has changed our lives in the twenty years since that landmark year in Australia's history. It was an era before the common use of mobile phones - when you could still find a public phone booth and put a coin in the slot. There was no internet to use as a reference to find people and information. These things have become so much a part of our daily lives that we forget what life was like before we had them.
Peter Corris' writing style is to the point. He gets straight to the story and doesn't waste words. He also manages to evoke a very strong sense of Sydney. Corris knows these streets, he's had a beer at the pubs and a cup of coffee at the coffee shops. There is a reason why Corris is referred to as the "godfather of Australian crime fiction" and if you are wondering why, then one of his Cliff Hardy books will answer the question.
OPEN FILE - Peter Corris
I wondered where Peter Corris would take Cliff after the loss of his PI licence (which, it seems, he's unlikely to ever get back), but I didn't really expect it to be the 1970's. Once you're back in that old case with a few well chosen "commentaries" Corris places you firmly in the 1970's very adeptly - from the opening observations of the Ananda Marga compensation case; the shock and concern that early AIDS cases raised; the death of Bob Trimboli and even the simple lack of mobile telephones, there's a clear sense of the time.
OPEN FILE takes you right back through that 1970's investigation - the disappearance of Justin Hampshire - his mother and father (separated and not getting on at all), his younger sister (very troubled), the police that get themselves involved, the politician and his son and Frank and Hilde.
Does Cliff finally get to close the file? You'll have to read the book to find out. Where is Cliff going from here - I guess he's off on his travels, but then at the end of OPEN FILE he's only on his way to the airport. A lot can happen between Glebe and Sydney airport.