The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret

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The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: An interesting episode, designed to highlight the extremes of modern childhoods, but one which never really gets as far as satisfying.
Buy? MAYBE Borrow? MAYBE
Pages: 107 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Dedalus Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781910213186

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This is a book that suggests love across the tracks – all the while making the reader ask 'just how chuffing wide are those tracks supposed to be?!' Franky is a hard-done-by schoolboy, whose ultra-Catholic parents are stifling him in all aspects of life, so much so it's likely that when he gets into trouble by witnessing some porn on a friend's mobile phone at school it was really the hardware that he was gawping at in amazement. Hardware is nothing to Daizee, the underage street hooker, who knows what hard stuffs she likes and what she doesn't, and what her punters – and her mother, back when they had a connection – enjoyed, or needed, en route to it. Their unlikely connection is the subject of this gritty novella.

For some reason Xavier Leret's name was familiar to me when picking this book, although I cannot now tell which theatre production of his I must have caught his name from (it certainly wasn't either of his movies). He clearly uses whatever form of storytelling he chooses, and I'm of a mind to quote this book when it mentions 'looking back' and picking hundred year old texts to portray how people work. That's what Franky accuses his parents of doing, and in truth it's not really what Leret is up to. The connections with Shakespeare's contents really are quite tenuous – is it Mrs Capulet or Mrs Montague who demands their daughter engages in sex acts so they can get a hit of junk?

In fact, if you pick up on the author's blog (another form, and source for us, of his writing, fictional and otherwise) you see he has taken from real life for this book. The boy is something based on the author's own religious upbringing, the girl clearly a case study in an extremity that we would seldom meet, let alone Franky. Reality comes down to a very urgent need to feel fresh and current, and a vernacular spelling for Daizee that puts a hardening d-apostrophe in front of every 'you', leaves her wanting the care of her 'muh', and more.

But there's the feeling that Daizee never really gets out of being a case study to become a character. She's not a stereotype – for me at least, she is so extreme I've hardly read the like let alone lived alongside such a person – but she and he and the plot they form are stifled a little by being a tad underwhelming. Perhaps it's just me, but the book showed a way to a much tougher, darker yet morally justifiable ending – the fact it didn't shows the book did work, for I seldom see other ways out of a book and this clearly engaged me enough to make me do that, yet shows the conclusion that this book is more than a bit 'meh'. Yes, it's suitably grim, yes the characters are well-defined enough (and the lad's father being so against the approach of his mother, however similar they may be, added a lot to proceedings), but with its hard-hitting and well-constructed brevity it only felt a little inconsequential. In dressing itself up as a modern-day tragedy in five acts, it shows a lot, yet pulls the punches, and flashes past one as merely a well-moving episode in our reading.

I must thank the publishers for their review copy.

Black Sheep by Naima B Robert comes across as pretty much the original Shakespeare in a most urban setting.

Buy The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret at Amazon.com.

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