"Witty, wryly humorous and fast-paced, "The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender" is a thriller with a twist which brilliantly evokes the sleaze below the surface of the city's glittering façade". Is this what the novel is about?
Marele Day's novel, "The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender" explores a large scope of issues related to crime and mystery writing. The use of simple language, symbolism, clever wit and a certain sense of satirical mockery all contribute to composing this witty, wryly humorous and fast paced novel. Through the way in which Day portrays the protagonist, Claudia Valentine, she challenges the stereotypes and ideas set in the readers' minds, in relation to gender issues. Day also succeeds to ruthlessly unmask the bare grit and grime of the cold hard truth, that is, organized crime in Sydney.
"The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender" is a satirical ridicule of the traditional hard-boiled school crime novel. It complies with the basic characteristics of a piece of private-eye detective fiction; however Day has also incorporated a certain extent of irony into the story by choosing the main character/detective to be a woman. Claudia Valentine is not depicted as the typical useless female throwaway- either by being the victim or betrayer. This woman is self-sufficient, gutsy and heroic. Her involvement challenges stereotypes and ideas set in the responders' minds in relation to gender issues. She is equal to any male, completing her job successfully and outwitting anyone in her path. She is also the intellectual counterpart of Harry Lavender, the "evil villain" in the story.
In light of the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the novel, through Claudia, Day captures the typically marginalised life-style of a detective that's lacking in emotion, living on the fringes of society, being largely fond of alcohol, cigarettes and modestly enjoying violence in their life. She shows a female character doing what previously only men had done; directly...
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