Open File, by Peter Corris

I dropped the envelopes in the box and felt a hard punch to the right kidney that drove the wind out of me. I spun around, fighting for breath, and took a solid thump down where you don’t want it. The toast and coffee threatened to come up, my eyes flooded and closed against the pain and I sagged against the postbox, still gasping, and with no strength to retaliate.

Cliff Hardy, private investigator, has been forced into retirement by deregistration. As he packs up his office, he comes across an open file, from a case back in 1984. Reading the file takes him back to his investigation into the disappearance of a teenager, Justin Hampshire.

What would cause a quiet, ambitious teenager to disappear without a trace? As Hardy delves into Hampshire’s past, he is drawn into a stream of events involving all members of the teenager’s family, a politician and various hired thugs. Hardy’s own life is endangered as he works to uncover the truth.

Open File is an intriguing mystery story, filled with the usual blend of mishaps, close calls and humour which mark this likeable larrikin detective’s work. He manages to alienate the police, charm some ladies and outwit the rogues who want him stopped. But is this mystery too hard for Hardy to solve?

A good read.

Open File, by Peter Corris
Allen & Unwin, 2008

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