FOLLOW THE MONEY - Peter Corris
You really have to worry about Cliff Hardy. Every year he seems to dig himself a bigger, deeper more dramatic hole and he's not as young as he thinks he is.
Or so it seems from these books, but realistically Cliff is timeless. He has to be - don't try to do the maths of how old he must be - your brain will hurt or you could suddenly wonder why you're not quite such an action hero when you're nowhere near Cliff's age! Cliff's timelessness is part of his attraction, as is his blatant disregard for the rules, personal safety, and doctors advice. In recent years he has moved on a tiny bit though - he's had a heart attack and bypass surgery; finally got love; lost that love through tragedy; got rich; and in FOLLOW THE MONEY, lost the money again. At the hands of an unscrupulous financial advisor who, just to rub salt in the wounds, is renowned as somebody who ripped off clients too lazy to keep an eye on their own financial affairs. Cliff's not lazy, he's just easily distracted!
For Cliff though, it seems that the only thing worse than being ripped off could be being hired to find out if the aforementioned unscrupulous advisor isn't as dead as initial reports indicated. But forethought and consideration aren't items big on Cliff's checklist and off he goes. Enduring beatings and attacks, stays in hospital, chases, liars, cheats and threats and generally doing a fair bit of rushing around, Cliff does what Cliff does and gets to the bottom of the story.
One of the most important things in a series of this longevity, which concentrates solely on a single central character, has to be keeping the stories interesting and fresh. Sure there are elements that you expect - like the beatings, and ignoring the rules and the hospital visits etc etc etc, but luckily Corris seems to have found the happy knack of keeping things entertaining in the last half dozen or so of the Cliff Hardy books. This means that readers can quite conceivably look on the standard elements as time spent with an old friend. Albeit an old friend that you'd be barking to stand next to at the bar for fear of finding yourself in a fight that had absolutely nothing to do with you - but a little distance, and maybe a well defined exit strategy and why not shout a round. Okay, so you're not going to learn a lot about the psyche of the Australian male of a certain age. Okay so you know that Cliff's going to come out on top, well as close to the top as Cliff's ever going to get, and you know that being the love interest in Cliff's life's going to be a tricky prospect. But on the other hand, you also know that the bad guys will get found out, that wrongs will be righted and the Medicare system works like a dream. And it's nice to know that in each book there's always a bit of a plus for Cliff. Somewhere.
'When beautiful young women kiss you on the cheek you know you're over the hill, but I didn't really feel like that. As Wesley said, I still had the moves.'
Cliff Hardy may still have the moves but he's in trouble. The economy's tanking and he's been conned by an unscrupulous financial advisor and lost everything he's got. Cliff only knows one way, and that's forward, so he's following the money trail. WC It's a twisted road that leads him down deep into Sydney's underbelly, into the territory of big money, bent deals, big yachts and bad people. Cliff's in greater danger than ever before, but he's as tenacious as a dog with a bone.