Hard-boiled detective fiction refers to a style of crime writing originating in America, which involves a tough and realistic approach to the genre. Blooming at the end of world war two, it introduced a new aspect of earthy presence and naturalism to the field of detective fiction. Marele Day both challenges and conforms to the conventions of hard-boiled detective fiction in order to produce a feminist text that explores interesting ideas about power, corruption and life's facades. Day's crime thriller 'The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender' explores the basic characteristics of traditional detective fiction along the streets of Sydney while introducing an inversion of the genre. The literary elements of plot development, characterisation, setting and themes, combined with the characteristics of the text, allow the novel to conform to and challenge the classical approach of detective fiction while exploring interesting ideas about power, corruption and life's facades. .
Day follows the general characteristics of hard-boiled detective fiction for the plot development; however the plot itself takes a different perspective from the traditional concept. Day includes the suspicious death of an innocent boy as the main incident of the novel, with a private investigator handling the case. She also introduces a single suspect who is alluded to early in the novel, Harry Lavender. "There were roses and carnations. And there was Lavender." (P7). Day's use of allusion and symbolism foreshadow the involvement of Harry Lavender, emphasised by the capitalisation of 'Lavender' and its separation from 'roses and carnations'. This shows that the plot is focused on finding the missing manuscript rather than the culprit, as Lavender makes his presence aware and hints at himself being the criminal. He does not decoy Valentine away from him, but challenges her to find the manuscript, as he observes every move of hers.