CLIFF HARDY WAS HERE
© Jim Low
For the last twenty or so years I have thoroughly enjoyed trailing along with Cliff Hardy,
Peter Corris’s likeable private investigator. The stories generally unfold in familiar locations. Cliff usually investigates his many cases around the streets of inner-city Sydney.
I met Peter Corris a while back when he spoke at our local library. While kindly signing some of his books for me, he expressed genuine pleasure that I “liked Cliff”.
Sometimes Cliff’s investigations require that he drives his shabby but trusty, old Falcon north over the Bridge. I am on more familiar territory when he does so. However Cliff is not as sure in this territory as he is when working on the southern side of the harbour. Names of lower northern suburbs like Crow’s Nest, Wollstonecraft, Balmoral and Kirribilli, revive many memories for me.
Recently I have been reading some of the Hardy exploits I have missed along the way. In Heroin Annie, the title of an early collection of short stories, there is one that included a pleasant surprise for me. In the first short story I discovered Cliff traversing the area where I have been living for many years. He finds himself tailing a suspect to Emu Plains, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. He gets onto Old Bathurst Road, the way I always ascend the mountains. From there he travels “five miles towards the mountains”, turning off “down a bumpy dirt track”. This forces Cliff to abandon the Falcon and continue the chase on foot into the bush land.
Now, as I read this I got it into my head that I knew exactly where he was … my imagination placed him fair and square on the fire trail at the end of my street. And regardless of whether Cliff walked out of the real geographic world for a moment to apprehend his quarry, I still remain firmly convinced that he was somewhere “out the back of my place”.
© Jim Low