Peter Corris was born in Stawell, Victoria in 1942. When he was five his family left the country for Melbourne and he was educated at Melbourne High School and the University of Melbourne. After taking a Master's degree at Monash University and a PhD at the Australian National University (both in History), he was an academic, teaching and researching in various universities and a College of Advanced Education until 1975 when he gave up academia for journalism. He was literary editor of The National Times, 1980-81. He has travelled and lived for short periods in the Pacific, Britain, Europe and the USA.
Wealthy Frederick Farmer died when his weekender burned to the ground. Death by accident, the police found. But his daughter, Dr Elizabeth Farmer, a feisty academic who resembles the younger Germaine Green, hires Cliff Hardy to investigate. Is her only motive jealousy of her father's attractive second wife, now very rich?
Hardy's search takes hims from the Illawarra escarpment to Wollongong and Port Kembla, and the police are far from co-operative as he tries to unravel the truth. He has his hands full when a panic-stricken call leads to a second case - the search for the precocious daughter of Marisha Karatsky, an exotic, dark-eyed interpreter who gets well and truly under Hardy's guard. Hardy has narrow escapes and people die as his probing hits nerves.
Corrupt cops, compromised insurance agents, feral bikies as well as a few good guys are drawn into the maelstrom. Hardy battles on through personal turmoil and vicious opposition with all outcomes uncertain and justice a remote ideal.