On 30 August 2018, Peter Corris passed away. Corris is widely regarded as the godfather of Australian crime writing. His first Cliff Hardy novel came out in 1980, The Dying Trade. Corris went on to write over forty Hardy novels, along with an extensive collection of other fiction and non-fiction titles. A historian by trade, he was an academic and journalist before writing became his full-time profession.
I discovered Cliff Hardy in the last six years, enjoying his investigations which traversed Sydney and with various parts of the state and country along with occasional overseas jaunts. Hardy was an old-style private investigator with connections to police as well as darker elements in society. He had his own style of justice and it wasn’t always conventional. Hardy had a best mate in the police force as well as a number of love interests over the years. There was an ex-wife and a daughter, who Hardy was unaware of until they met when she was an adult. Their relationship, although initially awkward, was developed with realistic resonances over time. I enjoyed these books as a reader and a listener: many of the audiobooks were read by Peter Hosking, who will remain as the gruff voice of Hardy in my mind. There is a good overview of the Hardy series here, and a spotlight review of The Dying Trade here by the marvellous Margot Kinberg.
In the last few years, Corris had been a regular contributor to the Newtown Review of Books blog. Most Fridays there would be a brief but thoughtful article from Corris on all manner of things. Some that come to mind are his posts on musical influences in his life, audiobooks (his eyesight diminished significantly which impacted his ability to both read and write), places that he had lived, and gardens that his wife, Jean, had created in their various homes over the years. Sport also featured, along with people that he had met at various stages across his career.
I will not be alone in missing the writing and thoughtfulness of Peter Corris, and my Fridays won’t be quite the same without his regular presence.
[Photo: Sydney Harbour – Sydney was Hardy’s city and he knew it well]