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Repetition Kills You by Tom Leins - REVIEW


When I was a kid, every summer holiday, my best friend and his sister used to be shipped off to Devon for a long three-week break. I was so envious at the time, spending long solitary days in the back garden; however, years later and arguably a little wiser, having read Tom Leins’ deliciously dark collection of Paignton noir vignettes, maybe day-dreaming in the safety of my home was no bad thing.


In Repetition Kills You we accompany P I Joe Rey through a nightmarish world of small-town sleaze that provides a backdrop to a portmanteau of revenge-hungry tales laden with bloody mutilation and violence. A myriad of dark deeds is as expansive as its cast. Yet Leins’ excellent tight prose and command of narrative keeps the reader both alert and entertained.


A noir undercurrent resonates throughout. Yet it isn’t totally bleak; Leins’ sharp, sardonic wit gives the writing insight and depth, alleviating it from total darkness:


“Do you ever think about us, Joe?”

I consider the stomach-churning visions that sometimes keep me awake at night.

“Sometimes”


Leins’ unique vision of Paignton noir is uncompromising and laced with urban myth, yet his brief explorations of supernatural noir left a lasting impression on me. I’d love to see more of this; it was reminiscent of Laird Barron, and Leins undoubtedly has the talent to take it further, and I’d be excited to read the results.


As Leins acknowledges, Ballard’s post-modernist short story The Beach Murders was an inspiration, and Repetition Kills You with its alphabetically organised flash tales, which can be read in multiple sequences to provide a bigger story is a worthy homage to this. Like Ballard’s story, it experiments with convention and expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed this and highly recommend you journey into Rey’s world where passivity is not an option, but wherein lies the key.


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