Review: Heroin Annie by Peter Corris

The 5th book in the Cliff Hardy series is also the first book of short stories. This edition consists of 10 Cliff Hardy stories that have been gathered together. What we get is a little bit of a back story to the private detective as well as some interesting smaller cases that require more than a little ingenuity to solve. There is a good mix of cases presented here that covers all types of situations from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the isolation of the country.

Book Details

Title : Heroin Annie
Author : Peter Corris
ISBN : 9780868613994
Pages : 272
Published Date : 1984
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Sub-Genre : Private Detective, Hardboiled
Main Characters : Cliff Hardy

Heroin Annie is available at

Publisher's Synopsis

A collection of gripping short stories in the Cliff Hardy series from highly successful Australian crime fiction writer, Peter Corris.

Cliff Hardy is in action again: trying to keep one step ahead of his client's troubles - and his own.

He goes from sleazy backstreets to boardrooms in skyscrapers - dealing with everyone from fashion models and teenage junkies to urban developers and crooked funeral directors. Some are friendly, some try to kill him.

Hardy copes, with his guts and his savvy; and all for a hundred and twenty-five dollars a day (plus expenses).

Review of Heroin Annie

The 5th Cliff Hardy book, Heroin Annie, is actually a collection of short stories, each featuring the Sydney private investigator mixing it up with the rich, the escaped prisoners, the organised criminals and the murderous thugs. Like the novels, all the stories are hardboiled, straight to the point and solid as rocks, just like their protagonist. Peter Corris takes his detective through all kinds of hell and he seems to manage to come out the other side in reasonably good shape, apart from the odd scar or two.

Marriages Are Made In Heaven : The first story has a deeply ironic title, for its in this story that we greet, and say goodbye to Cyn, Hardys wife. She is referred to from time to time in the course of the many novels but it’s here that the circumstances for her departure are laid out. As for the case, Hardy is hired to protect beautiful model, Selina Hope. Unknown to her, Selina is caught up in a blackmail sting, one that could cost her her life unless Hardy can find a way to save her.

Heroin Annie : The title story puts Hardy in the midst of a major drug deal after he is hired to seek out Annie, the daughter of a friend. Young Annie has fallen in with the wrong crowd and under the curse of heroin. Dealers, addicts and crooked cops make this a tense little story told in classic hardboiled style with a diabolically dangerous twist to the ending.

The Luck of Clem Carter : Cliff takes a trip north courtesy of Clem Carter, an escaped convict seeking to get some revenge for his prison stretch. Hardys really only an observer in this one with Carter calling the shots in a whirlwind of action. This particular story forces Hardy to make some morally tough decisions and tends to typify his "take to bull by the horns" attitude.

Silverman : Hardy takes on the traditional hardboiled P.I. case, the missing person case. He stumbles onto a dodgy building development plot that manages to get him beaten up and knocked out before he gains a late upper hand.

Stockyards At Jerilderie : Cliff delves into the ambiguous art scene with original, reproduction and outright fake paintings lying at the centre of a murder and theft. This one seems fairly straight forward until right towards the end throwing in a nasty little surprise. This was one of the stronger stories of the collection.

Blood Is Thicker : An old New Zealand farmer has come looking for his son who has come to Australia to escape and has done too good a job. Now his father wants him to come back to take over the family farm. Cliff Hardy trails down the coast from Sydney to Wollongong and gets himself into a life-threatening situation with a trucking boss. Short, sweet and deadly, this ones dangerous with a clever twist that totally blindsided me.

Mother's Boy : Hoo boy, this one is a real doozy and left Cliff not knowing whether he was coming or going. Probably the best of all of the stories here. A sons concern that his mother is dating the wrong type of man gets way out of control when Cliff tails the love birds a little too closely.

Escort To An Easy Death : A rare opportunity to see Cliff in romantic mode, as brief as it is. Someone’s out to kill Cliff Hardy and they’re not too particular how they go about it. Incredibly, he survives some serious attempts to get rid of him before tracking down a likely suspect in a remote shack. All is not as it seems in this clever mystery, but the gunplay is fast and furious.

California Dreamland : to round out the book, the final story takes Cliff out of Australia and across to America where he searches for a girl who has fled to San Francisco. Although he is supposed to be way out of his comfort zone, the highly adaptable PI manages to operate with amazing efficiency in the unfamiliar surroundings and is an appropriate way to end this snappy series of shorts.

During the course of the wide range of cases investigated in this volume, I would say at a conservative estimate that Cliff Hardy would have been knocked unconscious at least 10 times, but I've probably missed a time or two. To think of the brain damage that he sustained to bring us all of this action is just mind-blowing, literally, and just makes his performances in the 20-some novels that would follow this book even more impressive.

Cliff Hardy fans will enjoy these shorter examples of his dry wit, tough exterior and adaptability under extreme pressure. As a matter of fact, that’s a little unfair, anyone who enjoys solid hardboiled detective stories will get a kick out of these stories and, I’m sure, will be searching around for more Cliff Hardy novels to enjoy.

You can get more information about the Cliff Hardy series and find a listing of all of the Peter Corris books in order by visiting the Peter Corris author page.

The book is available in paperback and electronically as a Kindle edition. You can also read what other people think about the book by checking out more reviews here

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