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.
Frank Parker, retired senior policeman and Cliff Hardy's long time friend, has a problem. A case from early in his career involving two doctors, one of whom was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill the other and went to gaol for the crime, is coming back to haunt him.The convicted, now dead doctor may have been innocent, and Parker had been the lover of the beautiful Catherine Castiglione, the doctor's wife.
Hardy tracks back through the now ageing names and faces, trying to tease out the truth. If the doctor was set up, who was responsible and why? Along the way Hardy encounters dodgy plastic surgeons, a broken-down ex-copper, a voyeuristic cripple and a hireling who wields a mean baseball bat.
A charismatic player is the son of Catherine Castiglione, a super-bright charmer, who just may be Frank Parker's love child. Animosities, arrogance and ambition create a spider's web around the violence that breaks out as Hardy searches for the spider.