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Davo's Little Something by Robert G. Barrett
From the Dustjacket
All easy-going butcher, Bob Davis, wanted after his divorce was to get on with his job, have a few beers with his mates, and be left alone. But this was Sydney in the early eighties. The beginning of the AIDS epidemic, street gangs, gay bashings, murders.
When a gang of skinheads bashed Davo's old school friend to death simply because he was gay, and left Davo almost dead in an intensive care unit, they unleashed a crazed killer onto the city streets. Before the summer had ended, over thirty corpses had turned up in the morgue, leaving two bewildered detectives to find out where they were coming from.
Publisher : Pan Macmillan Australia
First published : 1992
ISBN : 0330272926
No. Pages : 323 pages
Bob Davis is a fun loving, knockabout bloke who loves a bit of a joke or a laugh, even when it's at his own expense. As a butcher for Woolworths there are plenty of opportunities for fun and games with his co-workers, accepting any ribbing that comes his way with a good nature for which he is renowned.
All of that changes one night when he and a friend are attacked by a group of skinheads who proceed to beat the two men unmercifully. When Davo wakes in a hospital bed from the coma that left him unconscious for days, the first thing he notices is the excruciating agony from his injuries. The second thing he notices is a deep unyielding rage that has been lodged into the core of his being. This is something that was not in the make up of the old Bob Davis. It's the kind of rage that boils away inside of him, threatening to spew out at the slightest provocation. Davo becomes a changed man.
This is a brutal story that, while it doesn't exactly glorify violence, it certainly doesn't condemn it either. There is a strange mixture of emotions put into play as Davo slowly gains his strength and then embarks on his punishing training regimen. On the one hand you find yourself cheering him on, hoping he will reach his goal and then, on the other hand you realise that his goal is to turn himself into a killing machine - and he's prepared to use his newly acquired skills.
So, from the good-natured bloke at the start of the book, Davo has been transformed into a quiet killer, ready to embark on a prolonged hunt for skinheads.
Fans of Robert G. Barrett's Les Norton series will recognise Barrett's rough, larrikin style and the humour he injects into his books is certainly present in the early stages, but then he moves into new territory and the humour evaporates in no uncertain terms. But there are some important differences that distinguish Bob Davis from Les Norton. The first is Davo doesn't fight - not one bit. The second is that where there is a strong streak of homophobia running through Norton, Davo completely accepts the sexual preferences of others and is not judgemental in the slightest. Both of these differences are vital to the set up of the story.
Ultimately, it's a story of revenge as Davo is possessed of a single-minded motivation that turns him from a gregarious people person to a reclusive murderous beast. Barrett doesn't hold back once Davo's revenge hits full tilt and the story quickly lapses into a brooding, menacing tone that becomes littered with gruesome images of mayhem.
Barrett intentionally emphasises the larrikin nature of Davo in the early stages of the book so that the change in him is more pronounced. At times, the antics and juvenile behaviour of Davo were very similar to Barrett's popular series character Les Norton, as is the dialogue which is quite over the top ranging from outrageously racist, sexist and infantile. As a matter of fact, it is the dialogue that can be the most exasperating aspect of reading a Robert Barrett book, knowing that no-one speaks like his characters do in the real world.
Davo's Little Something is a bit of a departure for Robert Barrett, taking on a much darker tone than his other books. Bob Davis is a tortured man who is caught in a compulsion that cannot be satisfied and there is an inevitability about where he is headed and it's almost too terrible to watch.
So, you've been warned. This may look like another feel good romp around Sydney by a smart mouthed lovable larrikin complete with juvenile humour, punch-ups and a rollicking ending, but it's not. Davo's Little Something will take you on a dark, dark ride into the dangerous backstreets of Kings Cross.
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