Distinctive voices help shape the meaning by emphasising thematic contents. The distinctive voices of Claudia and Lavender reflect how insidious Sydney is. The “surfer boys” are casual and reflect how people ignore the reality. Their drug use shows their underbelly and this is part of the Sydney they live in. Beautiful on the outside, but this facade hides a multiple of sins. The voices of Claudia and Carol are used by Day to comment on how women are forced to choose career of motherhood, career women are forced to develop ruthlessness to succeed and cope.
The city of Sydney has a facade of great natural and manufactured beauty. The harbour and the beaches, the natural bushland all contribute to the impression of Sydney as a beautiful environment, and tempt us to believe that all aspects of life in the city are clean and admirable. However in visiting Claudia Valentine, we see people and places that illustrate the reality behind the facade. Johnny the jumper, who breaks legs of his victims, the menacing Maori and Harry Lavender himself inhabit the world behind the facade: an ugly world of manipulation, corruption and cruelty.
Claudia’s emotional complexity is gauged through her likes and dislikes as well as her personal attitudes and values. We recognise her as someone who loves language for its own sake, enjoying the playfulness and flexibility of words “I liked the way cryptic make your mind jump sideways, the lovely puns that developed”. Such intellectual insight ensures that the mind game motif is recognised as one of Lavenders deadly ploys, which makes Claudia wonder “terminal illness…. the question or the answer”. Harry lavender is depicted as a criminal mastermind who “owned this city”.
Regardless of the fact that there is “very little about him in print”, his influence is clearly extensive. Like Claudia, he loves wordplay, but his language gives it sinister overtones. The modus operandi of this criminal egoist involves eradicating all opposition “know your terrain, fight with what you’ve got, slip through the interstices of the organised ranks”. Beehive analogies are used along with computer imagery to develop our appreciation for his manipulative control, showing there “are more subtle ways to kill than bullets”.