Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s First Female Detective Took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and Changed the Face of the Force
Published: March 2018
Meticulously researched and compellingly written, Leigh Straw’s Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s First Female Detective Took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and Changed the Face of the Force must have one of the longest titles in Australian publishing history. But it lets you know what you’re in for – and quite a ride it is too, with young Lillian pioneering the role of women in Australian policing and facing formidable female foes in the heady days of Sydney’s crime wars during the roaring ’20s and depressed ’30s. From runaway girls to fraudulent fortune-tellers to the seriously dangerous Kate Leigh, a sly grog and cocaine queen, Straw takes us on a genuinely fascinating and often surprising journey through Armfield’s long and ground-breaking career. And what’s most satisfying is how Straw backgrounds each ‘episode’, providing social and political context, allowing the reader to more fully gauge Armfield’s significance. Recommended.