See You at the Toxteth, Peter Corris

Reviewed By
Andrea Thompson

“The best of Cliff Hardy, Australia’s legendary PI, with exclusive unpublished writing from Peter Corris on the art of crime fiction…”

You may consider yourself a well-read reader of crime fiction, even of Australian crime fiction (a slimmer yet more determined beast), but it is possible you came here to the Toxteth in order to be schooled by the ‘Godfather’ of Australian crime writing.  SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH is a meticulously curated collection of Peter Corris short stories that snapshot the prolific career of a writer who wrote almost ninety books (fiction, biographies, series, true-crime, the list can go on) over his career.  Peter Corris was a writer who consistently showed up, put in the work, and earned a deserved following of crime fiction fans not prepared to tolerate excessive padding, floral descriptions, or the possibility of time being wasted upon ethical examinations.

The evolution of private detective Cliff Hardy from his first appearance in THE DYING TRADE (1980) was a subtle one, illustrated beautifully in this anthology compiled after the 2018 passing of Corris.  Make no mistake, Cliff Hardy was created as a hard man and remained one, even as the tide of cultural change and the tweaking of Australian sensibilities shifted us all further to the more compassionate left with what we see, hear and are prepared to tolerate.  

Cliff Hardy is a character you’d like to do business with, if there was business to be done that would not necessarily be able to be transacted in polite company.  The Sydney town of Cliff Hardy operates on many levels and we see them all over the course of this book. There are large time gaps between the short stories but the selection still has a flow as if we were reading an entire novel about Cliff Hardy, only with many ongoing cases instead of one or two.

Included within SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH (referencing the Glebe hotel which Hardy frequents in his early days) is the author’s ‘ABC of Crime Writing’.  Not necessarily one point to be made per letter mind, and mind you read all of it to appreciate more of the dry tones and firm opinions of Peter Corris the reader, as well as those of Peter Corris the writer.

Corris has a economical style of writing that somehow seems quintessentially Australian, where to sketch a situation vividly and not just for the locals, recognizably, does not rely on the abundance of descriptors.   SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH is the book fans will want to have on their shelves as the last joy that is the reading of the work of the late great Peter Corris.  Crime readers, new or well read of Corris, receive this entertaining and sharply written book with gratitude.

Now, see you all back there afterwards at book one.

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A selection of stories featuring Australia's favourite PI, plus unpublished writing by Peter Corris on crime.

For almost four decades Peter Corris was known as 'the godfather of Australian crime fiction', and Cliff Hardy has been Australia's favourite private investigator since he solved his first case in 1980. This selection of stories starts with Cliff's early days driving round Glebe in his battered Falcon, drinking at the Toxteth Hotel and taking on cases that more often than not leave him as battered as his car. As Cliff becomes older and wiser, he prefers to use his head more than his fists, but the cases are as tricky as ever and Hardy's clients lead him to the murkiest surroundings.

To further celebrate Peter Corris's legacy, editor Jean Bedford has also included a selection of his columns on the world of crime and crime writing, along with his 'ABC of Crime Writing'. From Adultery to Yeti, via Gumshoe, Hit man and The Mob, this entertaining compendium gives a fascinating insight into Peter's vast knowledge of the genre.

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