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.
When journalist Louise Kramer hires Cliff Hardy to find Billie Marchant, Hardy heads for unfamiliar territory of the far southwestern suburbs of Sydney. Billie claims to have information about media big-wheel Jonas Clement - the subject of an incriminating expose by Kramer. Clement doesn't want Billie found and Clement's enemies want to find her first. Hardy tracks Billie down, but 'saving Billie' means not only rescuing her, it means saving her from herself.
Billie, ex-stripper, sometime hooker and druggie, is a handful. Hardy gets help from members of the Pacific islander community and others, but the enemies close in and he is soon fighting on several different fronts. Clement and his chief rival, Barclay Greaves, have heavies in the field, and Hardy has to negotiate his way through their divided loyalties. Some negotiations involve cunning but others involve guns.
The action takes place against the backdrop of the Federal election campaign, and all outcomes are uncertain.