The Empty Beach (1983)
Not for the first time I reflected that a hundred and twenty a day wasn't a good rate for getting dead, but there was no point in upping the fees. A thousand a day is till a poor deal. -Cliff Hardy
It's disgraceful that the Cliff Hardy books aren't in print--at least here in the States. Peter Corris, though an Aussie, is an indisputable master of the oh-so American private eye genre.
The Empty Beach, an early entry in the series, finds Corris and Hardy in peak form in a case involving the apparent reappearance of a missing-and-presumed-dead pinball machine mogul. Hired by the lovely "widow" to investigate a reported spotting on Bondi beach Hardy soon finds himself among corpses and in danger, the kind of genuine danger that private dicks used to face before they acquired invincible sidekicks and police protection.
This one even got turned into a movie starring Bryan Brown, though I've long since given up hope of it becoming available here. See if you can at least find the book.
Copyright 1998-2015 Orrin Judd