'Stripped of his private detective licence and devastated by the murder of his partner Lily Truscott, Cliff Hardy travels to the US to help Lily's brother's tilt for a world boxing title. In San Diego he suffers a heart attack and undergoes a quadruple bypass. He meets nurse Margaret McKinley, an expatriate Australian who is concerned about the disappearance in Sydney of her father - renowned geologist Dr Henry McKinley.
'Hardy takes on the investigation, and it turns out that McKinley had discovered a way to tap into the massive Sydney basin aquifer, a possible solution to the city's water problems. Working with Margaret and his daughter Megan, Hardy confronts an old enemy and opposing forces of big business bent on exploiting the discovery - and prepared to kill for it.
'Energised by the case and by his attachment to Margaret, Hardy obeys the strict rules for the restoration of his health - but in pursuing the truth and the malefactors, he makes his own rules.'