First published back in July of 1971 as the first novel under his pseudonym ‘Petra Christian’, the sleazy pulp novel ‘Hitch-Hiker’ formed Peter Cave’s second published novel following the now legendary biker-pulp novel ‘Chopper’ (1971). Cave’s ‘Petra Christian’ novels sided more towards a sleazy-erotic nature than biker, violence or murder mystery (i.e. Taggart) – for which he later became otherwise known for.
It’s the summer of 1969 and after Sally Deenes becomes friends at work with the rather wild Joan, the two young women decide to cut all of their ties with the world and embark on a travelling escapade across Europe. Having a somewhat prim and proper upbringing, Sally is apprehensive to say the least; especially when she compares her moral standards to that of the wild and free Joan. Nevertheless, she decides life is for living and she needs to relax and enjoy herself a little more, so decides to go on this impulsive trip of a lifetime.
Having just enough money between them to pay for some basic camping and travelling gear, plus some left over for the initial travel costs, the two set off for France as walk-on passengers on the ferry across the channel. Their plan on arrival - to hitch-hike across the beautiful landscape of France. However, the trip gets off to a rather risqué start when the first motorists to offer them a lift start passing alcohol around and pushing themselves on to the two attractive young women. Joan being Joan, wallows in their advances and before long, the two girls are lying naked on their backs in a field with the two French motorists having their lustful way with them.
But the casual sex and directionless travelling soon takes a turn for the worse when the two girls unwittingly end up in a red-light-district, staying in perhaps the most seedy hotel in the area. Furthermore, the two are mistaken for prostitutes by the hotel owner and put to work on two kinky customers. But when they try to call it a night after the first two punters have left, they are kidnapped and held prisoner until the hotel owner can sell the two girls on as part of his illegal people-trafficking racket.
But Sally still has her dignity intact. That is, until they find themselves in Greece and the pair mutually decide to go their separate ways. From here on Sally has little to no money and no real idea of where to go, what to do, or how to get there. But around every corner, as she quickly learns, there is always a man – for better or for worse...
From the very beginning the reader is thrust into the lowbrow erotic-sleaze-fest that is this comically bad, but utterly entertaining excuse for a novel. Little to no time is spent on characterisation (even for the two principal characters) before we embark on this badly rationalised dream holiday across Europe.
Rampant sex is always on the cards, no matter what the situation. Hardly a thought is put towards any emotional or physical response to the two girls’ ordeals before they’re off with another two men for more sexual gratification. Instead of “When in Rome, do as the Romans”, Sally pretty much adheres to “When with Joan, do as Joan does”. The end result being much merriment in the weak-willed way in which she tries to object for a split-second before diving on to the next man who can offer them a lift, accommodation, or merely smiles their way.
The actual storyline of the novel takes on such a backseat to the sleazy-sex that it ends up throwing up a multitude of comical flaws and oversights that just further enrich the whole experience of the book.
The reader can’t help but laugh at the casual and flaky nature of these two one-dimensional girls. Even in its first-person-perspective, the lack of any rationalising from Sally in the face of some truly terrible crimes is breath-taking. After being kidnapped, beaten and sexually assaulted, and once the two have escaped, they quickly decide that there’s really no need to inform the police – “after all, it’s just our word against theirs”. No qualms against, or thoughts for, anyone else who is to be subjected to the same ordeal in the future. No need to bring those responsible to justice. No need to protect anyone else from the same fate. Absolute genius!
The laughably casual nature in which the author tackles tricky subjects such as rape, drug dependency, homosexuality, prostitution and people-trafficking is outstanding. Forget the wealth of sex on offer, the true gem in the novel is the author’s masterfully blasé approach to any of these tricky and emotionally impactful subject matters.
All in all, this is a mile-a-minute romp across Europe, with some questionably inappropriate moments (late night frolicking with a father and son in the same shed) and a downright hilarious blasé attitude to all of the otherwise tough situations that the two girls find themselves in. This really is sleazy-tongue-in-cheek-entertainment from start to finish. Entertaining and laughably captivating throughout.
The novel runs for a total of 127 pages.
© DLS Reviews