The Outside Story is a mix of detective story, academic satire and ordinary-life melodrama, told through the figure of a woman investigating a highly charged chapter in Sydney history, that of the building of the Sydney Opera House. In The Outside Story history is centred on the forced resignation of the building's first architect and his departure, with his team, from the building site in 1966.While the building itself has long been a pre-eminent national icon, the crisis in its formation remains painful and controversial, a story still unresolved, with a special grip on private and public memories. The narrative concerns itself with the student, who struggles to make sense of her research material, while living an untidy life with family and friends. The great building's history pervades the characters' lives, and for them, the issues which mark that history have everything to do with the struggles of the present. The student detective's pursuit tangles constantly with family and love-life; wayward desires intrude, inviting her down other paths.