It couldn't ever be said that the loss of his Private Investigator's licence has slowed Cliff Hardy down. In TORN APART, the death of his look-alike cousin in Cliff's house, an arrest for importing illegal drugs, a trip to Ireland, a gathering of Irish Traveller descendants, a brush with the spooks and a new woman don't even slow him down. But they do coincide to give him a moment or two's thought.
Meeting Patrick - a second cousin he never knew about, a second cousin who is the absolute spitting image of him certainly does give Cliff something to think about. Not the least because the contact comes out of the blue and impetuously leads to a trip to Ireland to track down their joint ancestors. Having had a tremendous trip overseas, the cousins return to Sydney and Cliff's house, only to have Patrick shot to death in Cliff's back bathroom. For a while it's not particularly clear who was the intended target - Cliff or Patrick, the physical similarity being as startling as it is. Pretty soon Patrick's ex-wife enters the fray (and Cliff's bed), the spooks appear, and Patrick is obviously not exactly what he seemed to be. Cliff starts out investigating - to avenge his cousin, protect his own skin, clear his own name, keep in sweet with the girl, and because he just can't help himself.
There have been some terrific books in the Cliff Hardy series recently, in the lead up to, and the ultimate loss of his PI Licence. A heart attack, a near fatal bullet wound, getting older, a lot of things have contributed in recent books to Cliff becoming a slightly (very slightly) different person to who he used to be. Perhaps that's why TORN APART isn't my absolute favourite of the recent books - mostly because this outing felt more like a return to the expected pattern. Events happen; Cliff gets the girl; he's threatened and backed into a corner; solves the case; starts to lose the girl. Not that the pattern isn't well executed, enjoyable, and just a darn good entertaining read, but perhaps it's that slight feeling of returning to the same old same old, the lack of Cliff continuing to move on, changing, aging, adapting. There's none of that feeling in TORN APART, and because of that, it's not going to make my one of my favourite Cliff Hardy books. Mind you, it's still a good, entertaining, perfect summer quick read, in the full-on style of Cliff Hardy. There's not a lot wrong with that.