Author: Peter Corris
Publisher: Bantam Books
Posted on 2011-12-22, by 4bookholic.
O’Fear – Peter Corris
Peter Corris | Bantam Books | 1990 | 218 pages | English | EPUB,MOBI
The 12th, and one of the strongest, books in the Cliff Hardy detective series. Cliff Hardy has had his moments over the years finding work reasonably easy to come by while enjoying the occasional relationship with an assortment of women. By the time O’Fear has rolled around, the Sydney-based private detective is single, a little more dishevelled and is now finding work a little on the scarce side. Peter Corris has put his popular protagonist under a bit of pressure as the economic belt is tightened – even Hardy’s cat has left him. “From Publishers Weekly Australian "enquiry agent" Cliff Hardy investigates the death of a trucking entrepreneur in this smartly paced caper. In a first-chapter twist, Hardy learns he's been offered the job via a note left posthumously by the victim, Barnes Todd, who has been killed in a car crash. Hardy has no idea what Todd suspected or why he himself was designated to look into the case, but in short order, he learns that Todd had been an accomplished painter and photographer whose works are worth a mint, that a U.S. Army captain had once sworn to kill him and that a business rival had been sending thugs to tear up the Todd industrial terminal. Hardy also finds out that Todd's last words in the hospital had been "O'Fear," thereby leading him to a prison where Hardy's old friend, the shady Kevin O'Fearna, is awaiting trial. O'Fear, who persuades Hardy to put up his bail, is stabbed before his release; Hardy is persistently tailed; Todd's widow's house is ransacked. Is somebody after the art? Through one surprise after another, Corris ( Man in the Shadows ) reveals his red herrings and various truths about the many players in this engaging yarn. ” damieng's Full Review: O.Fear BooksCliff Hardy has had his moments over the years finding work reasonably easy to come by while enjoying the occasional relationship with an assortment of women. By the time O’Fear has rolled around, the Sydney-based private detective is single, a little more dishevelled and is now finding work a little on the scarce side. Peter Corris has put his popular protagonist under a bit of pressure as the economic belt is tightened – even Hardy’s cat has left him. Cliff Hardy knew Barnes Todd, although theirs wasn't a particularly close friendship, it had been over a year since he saw him last after all. So when his lawyer Cy Sackville told him that Todd was dead his reaction was one of interest tinged with regret, not one of great grief. The reason that Cy called Hardy into his office to tell him about Todd's passing was that Todd had left a letter instructing that Hardy be hired to investigate his death if he should die suddenly in an accident. The car crash down Bulli Pass certainly falls into that category and the $10,000 left by Todd will certainly cover the fee. Hardy’s first step after receiving the news from Todd’s solicitor is to visit Todd’s widow, Felicia, who is initially against the idea of paying Hardy such a large sum. However, after Hardy convinces her that he genuinely wants to find out the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death, she relents and backs him all the way. She proceeds to inform Hardy that she was at his bedside in the hospital when he died and that his last words were troubling to her. She couldn’t understand why he would repeat the words "Oh...fear". Hardy, however, knows that he was talking about Kevin O’Fearna who is not exactly the most stand-up guy in the world. Nevertheless, Hardy seeks him out, finding that he is actually in prison, serving a short stretch. The link to Todd is unmistakable with O’Fear convincing Hardy that the information he has would go a significant way towards answering the question as to why he might have been killed. So convinced is he that Hardy posts bail to get him out of prison and together they team up to track down Todd’s final movements. What they get themselves into is a devious plot that takes Hardy right under the notice of all the wrong people where personal safety is concerned. Cliff Hardy has settled back into the role of the typical hardbitten detective after a succession of books where he has nurtured a caring relationship. Now that he and Helen Broadway are no more, he has reverted back to the abrupt, taciturn detective of the very early novels. For the first time ever you get the impression that Hardy is a lonely man, often reflecting on the people who are no longer in his life. All of that turns out to be a bonus for us because his loss translates to a desire to keep himself occupied and as a result, the story unfolds at a steady rate. This is yet another of those kinds of detective stories that heads off in one direction, uncovering a few vital clues before taking an unexpected turn and racing off in another. The investigation into the death of Barnes Todd is merely the opening gambit in a much deeper story of deceit and personal vendetta. In peeling back the first flimsy layer Hardy falls into an inevitably sticky world of corruption that is violently defended. O’Fear is a solid hardboiled detective novel that highlights both Hardy’s versatility and his vulnerability. This vulnerable side is gradually becoming more pronounced making him a more sympathetic protagonist. His reflections on his past regulates the more volatile moments in the story ensuring that we are given a good chance to regather ourselves before plunging into the next high point. For the deeper exploration into the mind of Cliff Hardy, the well-developed and ever changing plot and the tight prose that maintains a forceful focus, O’Fear strikes me as one of the strongest books in the Cliff Hardy series.
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