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"The Life And Crimes Of Harry Lavender" By Marele Day.

1146 words - 5 pages

"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 committing herself to the criminal underworld, walking dangerous streets at night, boldly trespassing into perilous areas and defending herself- all the things that only men would do in conventional versions of the genre.On the very first page, Day introduces this concept of ironic mockery by creating confusion as to the gender of the character. A tough voice that fills the requirements of hard-boiled school men is established, and only after turning the page does the reader realize that the terribly hung-over narrator is a female private-eye and the blonde in the bed is a good-looking male.The novel is set in Sydney. Day represents the city form two different views. One is Claudia's safe, sheltered Sydney of innocent childhood,"Cars sat in the sun silently absorbing the heat, reminding me of childhood summers. Days at the beach and before you went home all the doors of the car would be flung open and the heat that rushed out nearly knocked you over."The reader soon discovers it to simply be a...

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