The Life And Crimes Of Harry Lavender

Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender #

The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender is crime novel about contemporary Australian life, written with all the ambiguity and moral sophistication of most “who dun-nits “. Crime fiction, also called page turners, pot-boilers, thrillers…are popular because they represent an escapist moral fantasy. They posit a world where, like fairy tales, good conquers evil. If only it were so in the real world.

Evil is punished and the good guys win after pursuing the truth. This does not happen in most legal systems committed to adversarial outcomes that profit the industry.

It looks like crime, and sounds like crime, and sells like crime, but – it’s Literature! Its Opening is a subversion of the genre - a reversal of expectation as we are duped into believing this is your typical male private eye (P.I.). The role reversal - a female in a traditional male dominated field; women can do everything men can do - challenges the stereotypes of traditional crime fiction.

Purpose: (themes, concerns, issues main ideas….) #

  1. To create a sense of placeSydney.

Marele Day had spent four years travelling the world and when she came back to Sydney recognised its special charm and atmosphere. She became determined to write a book about it and its special appeal.

a) Find references to Sydney, favourable and unfavourable.

  • what aspects are emphasized?

  • In totality how does Day present Sydney?

  • what are the links with the past?

  • what is meant by the “facade of Sydney’?

  1. Corruption and suspicion vs probity and trust.

  2. Effect of technology

— have we become dehumanised? Will technology take over from humans?

  • What is the relationship between humanity and technology?
  1. Isolation

— Most of the characters are isolated in one way or another.

  • Find as many examples of isolation as possible.

  • What overall comment is made about isolation?

  • Is there a connection between it and technology?


  1. Day uses a lot of the technique of modern day films - especially the “black and white” scenes on Harry Lavender. How is he portrayed?

He is very detached and aloof. We the audience get to see and hear what Claudia is not privy to. Are these extracts from the book Mark Bannister was writing?

  1. Comment on Claudia Valentine’s Phrasing

Claudia speaks in the manner of a hard-boiled worldly wise Private Investigator (P.I.).

slick, glib, swaggering, at times sassy (cheeky) and sometimes tongue in cheek.

“Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse”(22)

“I was changing cars more often than I changed my underwear” (101)

But it’s one

It’ll be dead end if you don’t. Now move” (162)

Word Play Double entendre (meaning)

“It must have been a plant.” “A lavender plant.” (126)

Terminal illness” (6, 17, 20,

Alter, (141…

curse, cursor (143… heart ( 55,

“waiting for the developers to give them a new lease of life, or maybe just a new lease.” (69)

Humour “wit”

“I wait for bald men to pass by and ash on their heads (23)

one of the former and two of the latter, and the former is former” her reply to Steve regarding her marital status. ( 27)

“You put it away, Otto, you don’t know where it’s been.”

“That’s the trouble,” he moaned, it hasn’t been anywhere lately. (53)

social commentary

Divorced?” “Isn’t everyone?” (27)

“I had made a mistake getting into a car with a law-abiding policeman”

“You young folk are always in a hurry,” she said managing a smile. (45)

“pollution and syringes (54), women (54), fast food (68)