Claudia Valentines Private Eye business is in a slack period when she receives a call from an old school friend Marilyn Edwards. Claudia learns that Marilyns brother, Mark Bannister, was found dead at his computer console supposedly of a cardiac arrest. Marilyn doesnt believe the official Police line of death by natural causes and when Claudia starts to dig, neither does she. The death is complicated; Mark had a pacemaker, and heroin was found in his bloodstream. He was also writing a book; commissioned by an unknown client to write the best-seller of the century. The manuscript and his disks are missing, and the hardrive on the computer has been wiped.
Marks girlfriend Sally Villos is the daughter of his heart surgeon and a spoiled brat. She blames the drugs for Marks death and tries to hide evidence of drug paraphernalia when she finds the body. Claudia chips away at her story to find out what really happened but things get complicated with the involvement of Sydney crime pin Harry Lavender. Claudia finds her own life in danger as she is not the only one looking for the manuscript. The other searcher is not so nice and another couple of bodies turn up later in the book. Claudia finally ties all the suspects and clues together in a tight ending.
Marele Day has written a gritty hardboiled Australian novel somewhat in the style of Sara Paretsky. Claudia is a female version of the old-style PI with ash trays full of butts, empty bottles of Jack Daniels, a blonde in the bed, and another couple to ogle throughout the story. What sets Claudia apart is that she does not carry a gun but relies on high-powered karate kicks and running fast. Day choose her setting of Bondi Beach in Sydney well as it almost becomes a character in itself. The seedy underbelly of the area almost oozes through the pages. The pace is fast and exciting, and the dialogue witty with a twist of sarcasm. The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender is the first in a series of books featuring...
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