Cliff Hardy is the kind of man you would like to have in your repertoire of acquaintances. He’d be the one you’d go to when an issue of moral ambiguity arose, like when the people next door keep playing their music too loud and too late and ignore polite requests to desist but you are too worried about repercussions to complain to the police. Somehow, in a way you don’t really want to know, he would persuade them to stop. Indeed, they might even nod a faux friendly hello to you should you meet in the street or when you drop off the packages which the postie keeps leaving on your doorstep because he won’t set foot on their drive ever since he had a run-in with your neighbour’s Pitbull.
Hardy, Peter Corris’s Aussie iconic private eye, has returned in his 39th book, Silent Kill which was released just after we’d stopped welcoming in 2014. It’s been a lean period for Hardy work wise and he is persuaded to sign on for what seems an easy gig. He’s to be the bodyguard for Rory O’Hara, a former crusading
For the first time I kept a list of the books I read during past year and looking back over the months, 2013 was a rich year for literary pleasure. In total I read 76 books. That averaged out at about six books a month I only managed three in June yet nine in May (that’s the luxury of holidays). Apart from reading all the books on the Booker Prize shortlist there was no particular rhyme or reason to my selections. Sometimes I would just see a book in a book shop, other times it was the book selected by my book club. Sometimes it was a review or a news item in a newspaper or magazine or because an author was appearing at a literary festival I was attending (Dublin, Hay-on-Wye in England and Byron Bay in Australia).
Despite all that, I when I read other people’s end-of-year Best Of book lists I was stunned at the number I had not even heard of let alone all those wonderful authors whose books are sitting on my bedside table or in my e-reader but which I haven’t got around to reading yet. I did live up to the promise I made myself to read more collections of short stories and was richly rewarded. I read a pathetically small number of non-fiction which I hope to remedy in 2014. There were one or two which, if it were not for the “I’ve started so I’ll finish” rule, would have immediately been relegated to the bottom of the book pile but thus is the delicious serendipity of reading.
So, before the clock ticks over to a new day and new year, here is my top ten for 2013