ENGLISH ESSAY- The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender by Marele Day.
In a search for clues to the mystery of Mark Bannister’s death, Claudia Valentine is drawn into Harry Lavenders web of corruption and the world of organised crime behind Sydney’s established image. Marele Days choice to take the traditional ‘hardboiled’ private investigator approach and not only challenge the stereotyping of characters but also the common setting, from somewhere such as Los Angeles to Sydney, brings about many new ideas in relation to characters and themes. The interrelationship between characters, themes and setting provides a strong message that first appearances are deceptive. It is also apparent that the common issue of the good versus evil is explored through both the two sides of the city and the characters of Claudia Valentine and Harry Lavender. The characters may live and breath the city but the city too is living and breathing, every moment unfolding new beauty and new corruption. Marele Day’s choice of Sydney as a plot setting is vital to the novel and provokes a reaction in the reader that is one of discovery, exploration and search for truth.
Sydney is beautiful yet corrupt, as is the case with the two protagonists in the novel. Marele Day has created Claudia Valentine as the character striving for the greater good, both on a personal and professional journey. Valentine fulfills her role with wit, intelligence, courage and strength, proving that being a female in a city of organised crime, predominantly run by males is no problem for her. She does not live up to the typical feminine nor masculine stereotypes, forcing the reader to comply with the idea that nothing is as it first seems. Harry Lavender is the other main character, Valentines intellectual equal yet with motives that completly oppose her own, his intentions cruel and corrupt. These two characters are fighting a prolonged battle, Lavender uses the city and its people who are his “pawns arranged in a pattern”, there simply to toy with Valentines emotions and lead him to his strong hold.