Gun CityIn Gun Control, the fortieth Cliff Hardy novel, the veteran PI is hired by enigmatic entrepreneur Timothy Greenhall to investigate the apparent suicide of his son. It’s an odd request –by its very definition, suicide is self-inflicted, and the coroner has verified it as the cause of death – but Greenhall is determined to uncover the truth, and trace the gun back to its supplier. Exposing the truth, however, means plunging head-first into a violent world of corrupt cops and outlaw bikies, and putting some of Hardy’s long-standing alliances on the line.

Gun Control features the requisite murders, sex, pulse-pounding confrontations, and the uneasily-formed coalitions that have become a staple of the long-running series. Peter Corris spotlights several issues currently afflicting Sydney, including the regular drive-by shootings and dramatic rise in access to firearms, as well as the clampdown on bikey gangs, but it’s starkly presented, fitting with Hardy’s brusqueness: it is what it is, and survival depends on your ability to adapt to the changing nature of the streets.

The Cliff Hardy formula doesn’t vary much, but the execution is exceptionally, and constantly, surefooted. Even the tamer efforts crackle with whip-smart dialogue and brave, sparse prose. Corris is Australia’s Robert B Parker, grandiosely talented in the hardboiled arena. Gun Controlshows he hasn’t lost a step.

Allen & Unwin

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