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Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender Distinctive voices can change our perceptions and views towards an individual. This is shown in the novel “Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender” by Marele Day. The novel tells the story of Claudia Valentine, a private female detective and Harry Lavender, a ruthless individual who believes he has power over all of Sydney. The distinctive voices of both Harry and Claudia change our perspective towards the story and characters. Our main character Claudia has her own distinctive voice. She is portrayed as a typical 40’s, hard boiled detective.

She even refers to these characters directly when she says: “I could never understand how those guys, from one end of the story to the other, got shot, beaten up, and sometimes laid, without ever going to bed”. Marele Day plays with this stereotype at the opening of the novel. Most readers assume the character is male as Claudia lives “hard” eating pub food, rare steak and drinks hard alcohol. Claudia is portrayed as a loner who looks after herself. She handles herself well being a karate expert and feels she does not need to rely on others.

Claudia straight away proves the outline of this story with the opening line “i woke up feeling like death”, also portraying her unorthodox character. Claudia’s distinctive voice consists of many abrupt, clipped sentences when speaking to people. She focuses on her tasks instead of people. Her style of distinctive voice is well illustrated in the lines: “Close by the bed was a bottle of Jack Daniels: empty. And an ashtray: full”. Usually her chats consist of little effort on her part. She uses a cynical tone, sometimes implying the underlying seediness such as when she describes Bondi: “It is only money, everything has its price”.

She deliberately orchestrates her language when talking to people to get what she wants, such as when she talks to Mrs Levack she detects the women has an interest in her work, and greets her with: “good evening Mrs Levack, I’m Claudia Valentine, private investigator”. Claudia’s voice is a facade, she comes across strong and masculine but when she realises the depth of trouble she’s in we see her vulnerable side. Harry lavender is the second main character of this novel. He is a powerful and ruthless character, he uses people to get what he wants and enjoys playing games with individuals to achieve his purpose.

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