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.
Cliff Hardy is at the party to look after the paintings and throw out the drunks - gently.
But there he meets Helen Broadway, who interests him; and Paul Guthrie, who wants Hardy to look for his stepson, Ray. Hardy delves into the sleazy Kings Cross backstreets and lowdown pubs, following a twisting path laid by a hitman, a criminal with heavy political protection, and a seedy alcoholic member of his own profession. There's scarcely enough time for Helen Broadway, interesting though she still is.
Hardy pushes on to final confrontation. It's rough: the guns are out, and the odds are no help...