Helen Zahavi – Dirty Weekend (Flamingo, 1992)
Cover photography: Robin Cracknell
This is the story of Bella, who woke up one morning and realised she’d had enough …
Bella is a small, waif-like woman, constantly picked upon by aggressive men, an extreme case in point being her neighbour Tim who subjects her to obscene telephone calls and threatens rape and an acid bath. A session with Nimrod the clairvoyant convinces her that life will not allow her to be one of life’s bystanders, for her it is a straight choice between being the slaughterer or the slaughtered. It doesn’t take her long to decide which she’s going to be from now on, which is bad news for her stalker and Brighton’s male population in general. Once “Timbo” has been disposed of, she makes up her mind to quit the coast and head for London after the weekend, so she packs plenty of action into her final two days in her home town.
“The urgency with which she stabbed him was impressive. She really got stuck in.”
That she did! Bella is as engaging a psycho as you’re likely to meet. Never once do you sympathise with her victims, quite simply because they’re a motley collection of violent misogynists, rapists and tramp-baiting yuppie bullies (in my favourite sequence, Bella surprises three of same down an alley as they’re about to burn a bag lady as a “witch”). It’s slick (185 pages), pacey as a Laymon novel, intermittently hilarious, extremely violent and the plot is pure pulp (what are the chances of Bella encountering the local Jack the Ripper under Brighton Pier within 48 hours of embarking on her murder spree?).
What else is there to say but RECOMMENDED!