Review - SILENT KILL, Peter Corris
After coming to love the regular January Cliff Hardy fix it was a happy day when SILENT KILL arrived. Reading blurbs though can sometimes be problematic and so it was with this one, and the reference to a "rogue intelligence agent". Recently that seems to have been code for "no idea how to get my protagonist into, and subsequently, out of the mess I want them in the middle of". Corris is, however, not your standard writer and whilst there is a bit of sneaking around going on, in the main, this is a good old fashioned bit of biff, doesn't get the girl, solves the problem, Cliff Hardy story.
Fans of this series are well aware of the requirement to park any pointless mathematics over Cliff's real-life age (it's fiction for goodness sake). We're also well aware of Cliff's tendency to fall for the wrong girl; or the right girl and then put her in the wrong situation. His speciality is, after all, a general ability to make life difficult for himself. No different in SILENT KILL when he takes a job offered without bothering to look behind the cash all that hard only to find himself deep in the middle of political machinations, weird abductions, somebody else's love life complications and a sinister overseas manipulator. So at this point we fans also have to park our reluctance to accept this rogue intelligence agent bit, to say nothing of authorities who hover and do odd things, hidden agendas so deep you'd need an excavator to get to the bottom of them, and various threat lines which lead to the ultimate confrontation.
Needless to say, we fans may have had to twig that the point of the Cliff Hardy novels is exactly the elements mentioned above. Even if he gets the girl, he'll screw it up. Even when he solves the case, it'll leave a slightly sour taste in his mouth. He'll withstand punishment that would make a less fictional character curl up in a corner and quietly pass out. He'll also be faithful to friends come hell or high water, he'll be fundamentally decent, caring towards those he loves, and just ever so slightly sad. Rumpled, alone, battered, bruised and somewhere in a pub in Sydney quietly drinking dry white wine and pretending not to rue that which could have been. Damn, forgot .. it's fiction..
When Cliff Hardy signs on as a bodyguard for charismatic populist Rory O'Hara, who is about to embark on a campaign of social and political renewal, it looks like a tricky job - O'Hara has enemies. A murder and a kidnapping cause the campaign to fall apart.
Hired to investigate the murder, Hardy uncovers hidden agendas among O'Hara's staff as well as powerful political and commercial forces at work. His investigation takes him from the pubs and brothels of Sydney to the heart of power in Canberra and the outskirts of Darwin. There he teams up with a resourceful indigenous private detective and forms an uneasy alliance with the beautiful Penelope Marinos, formerly O'Hara's PA.
A rogue intelligence agent becomes his target and Hardy stumbles upon a terrible secret that draws them into a violent - and disturbing - confrontation.