The Greenwich Apartments ABC Radio Drama is a little something I picked up in a second hand shop. The packaging was cracked and knocked about, but this almost seems appropriate for a Cliff Hardy story, based on the novel by Peter Corris.
Firstly, let me explain that this is not an audio book – and not to be confused with the various Corris titles that Bolinda Audio has released over the years – as read by Peter Hosking. This is an ABC (Aust. Broadcasting Commission) radio play, with actors playing the various characters. Unfortunately, the twin cassette pack does not have the cast listed. I must admit I’d be very curious to know who played Cliff Hardy.
The Greenwich Apartments was the 9th Cliff Hardy book, and it was released in 1986, however this adaptation – apparently done by Corris himself – was either broadcast, or released on cassette in 1992. I am not too sure of the details here, as information is hard to come by. The cassettes have 1992 on them, but of course, the radio drama could have been broadcast several years before.
In this investigation, Cliff Hardy is hired by a wealthy businessman named Leo Wise, to look into the death of his daughter, Carmel. She was shot ten days prior, outside the Greenwich Apartments in Sydney’s Kings Cross. Carmel was a film-maker, having directed an award winning feature called Bermagui. She also had an enormous collection of video-tapes (remember this story was written before the advent of DVDs and Blu-Ray disks). As far as the police are concerned, Carmel Wise was working on porn films, and probably got involved with some shady underworld characters – and that’s how she met her demise. But everybody who knew Carmel, knows that is not true.
The Greenwich Apartments are owned by Leo Wise, and when Carmel’s ever metastasizing video collection outgrew where she was living, she asked her father if she store some of her collection in one of the vacant apartments. He agrees, and allows her to use Apartment One. The thing is, Apartment One, while nobody lives there, is in fact already let – and Leo Wise receives the rental payments without fail, every month.
When Hardy investigates, he discovers two suitcases (under piles of video tapes) which belong to the tenants of the Apartment. He ascertains the identity of one of the tenants as Tania Hester Bourke, but he doesn’t know who the man is. It’s a start, and his enquiries branch out from there.
As is the nature of this style of detective story, Hardy over the course of his investigation has to deal with a shady nightclub owner, ignorant and abusive cops, and underworld thugs brandishing weapons. And of course, the story serves up more than its share of red herrings too. At the end, Hardy is battered and bruised (and almost loses an eye), but has seen the case through.
Obviously, to fit in the two hour running time, much of the story has been condensed from the novel, but it is still remarkably faithful, and keeps the integrity of the story intact. And it’s entertaining too. At the start I thought that the actor who played Hardy sounded a bit young, and his voice didn’t have a ‘lived in’ quality. But as the drama progressed, I really warmed to his portrayal of Hardy – as I said earlier, I’d really like to know who the actor was.
The Greenwich Apartments is a punchy little drama, and an interesting side project for Peter Corris, the ‘Godfather of Australian Crime Fiction’. Coupled with the film version of The Empty Beach, it shows that Cliff Hardy was (and still is) bigger than the printed page – and one of Australia’s most durable pop culture heroes.