Harry Lavender Characters

Characters: #

We must remember that character creation is a construct; an artefact and central ones do not necessarily represent the author.  Characters are either portrayed sympathetically or unsympathetically.  The former are called protagonists, heroes or good guys while the latter are antagonists, villains or bad guys.  Sometimes main characters are picaresque – likeable but harmless rogues, larrikins or scoundrels –“loveable rogues”.

Martin Amis points out that over two millennia humans first told stories of Gods, then Kings, then Epic Heroes, then ordinary people , then anti-heroes, then villains, then demons and finally themselves.

Main Characters - full exposition of how they are presented and what they represent:


• Smart, sassy and sexually feminine yet hard tough P. I.

Sexually liberated - wakes up with a blonde next to her, a one night stand.

*“You look like the kind of girl who’d enjoy a glass of champagne at two o’clock in the morning.” *(28)

“Legs are her best asset “  A parody of the leggy women associated with male prototypes  P.I.’s.

doesn’t carry a gun. (30)

Lex”s offer; “How about one called Lex,

No thanks, smart asses aren’t my type.” (48)

Robbie: “I wanted the dawn to last forever… Next time I got involved I

wanted it to be with one who’d also gone through the dark night and was

awake enough to see the dawn.” (49)

Sally; She subtly moved her body causing the towel to fall away completely.

But I wasn’t falling for it. (150)

• machine —like warrior — avenger.

What was happening to me? I had a lump of steel where my heart should be…. I’d done my job. Right to the bitter end. I had made the right choices, left my children, honed myself down. No breast, no heart.” (160)

Amazons  - “Cold hard bitch! Cold hard renunciation”. Pg. 151, 160.


Like her prototypes, Phillip Marlowe, Claudia is a tough hard-boiled professional righter of wrongs who walks the mean streets of corrupt cities, lungs full of smoke, veins full of burbon, yet morally standing for what is right doing what a wo(man) ‘s got to do to save her city.

Realistically portrayed:

• Not a superwoman - vulnerable yet H.L. protects her - why?

a secret past - “I saw the child I used to be, the girl too tall for her age, the girl with no father, beg me with the sad eyes of childhood” (5)

• a loner alien, outsider, lives a marginal existence pub dweller, no demands, no emotional connections, independent, self reliant.

• denies her father.


Harry Lavender.,

Name; Harry - common. Lavender, sweet smelling, sleep inducing herb.

Shadowy villain who is never seen, but always present a ghost character.

We begin with his imaginary funeral, a state occasion. (15)

We may sympathise with his early mistreatment as a Polish refugee. (41)

We read about the values of the underworld, (65) his visions, (83 & 122) his initiation (87) can of worms (130) future (132)

Yet he is never on the main screen. We are distanced from him, an aloof figure.

Written in italics, first person, is it a copy of Mark’s Book? He is a symbol of evil, image of cancer rather than a man; depersonalised


• Attention seeking:

“At the centre of the group was a face that could launch ships¹. Tough

and histrionic” (6)

¹Helen of Troy

“Besides there was something about Sally that made you want to drink.

She had the nerve—bucking quality of a neurotic.” (11)

fixing him with those beautiful castrating eyes” (12)

• Suspiciously guilty:

The door opened fully and an unmasked Sally appeared with the look of a

beautiful but naughty child. (54)

Underneath the make-up and the act Sally was erratic, highly strung. Just

who was tautening those strings of hers? (116)

• Questionable origins:

I studied the photograph She didn’t look like either of them. (102)

A picture of Sally among Harry Lavender’s titles. An odd juxtaposition. A coincidence. I am Harry Lavender’s daughter. (122)

Heavy drinker:

By the looks of Sally, she’d poured half the duty free shop down her

*throat *

And Sally, go  easy on the bottle “  (114,116)

• Vain:

Not my face! Don’t hit my face She buried her head in the folds of her bathrobe, protecting her pride and joy. (154)


Secondary Characters and Brief role, traits and ho

**O’Toole **- “Johnny the Jumper, a heavy, minder, thug

The Maori - bouncer, thug, gangland figure

Mark Bannister - the cadaver, victim, medium for H.L. to get his memoirs published, conveniently eliminated via a faulty pacemaker through the computers modem?

Bernie -                Claudia’s contact in RTA

Steve Angell -       A hunk, an angel or a devil in disquise?

**Brian Collier **-      a seasoned, cynical detached reporter

Carol Rawlings - a conventional police woman - lesbian?

Mr and Mrs Levack - snoops, busy bodies Watch “Murder She Wrote”.

Guy Valentine -    packed it in - derelict, dead?

**Robbie McMillan **- Young, blonde, surfie