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Perfect Days


Perfect Days

I have a chill right now, and it’s not because it’s winter. I have just finished reading PERFECT DAYS, and it’s a roller coaster of a novel. It terrifies and excites throughout a wild ride, one where your seatmate is the worst person ever.

PERFECT DAYS is the second of three books (the first in the United States) to be published by Raphael Montes. Comparisons of Montes with Stephen King abound and, to some extent, for good reason. Montes takes King’s MISERY and sets it upside down before turning it inside out and blowing the whole shooting match to Kingdom Come and back again. He doesn’t even pretend that the influence doesn’t exist; he revels in it, for just a moment, referencing King’s book (or a variation thereof) very briefly in his own. I love MISERY (I read it once a year), but PERFECT DAYS will leave you resisting the impulse to stay isolated from your fellow human beings. And for good reason. People like protagonist Teo Avelar are out there. And you probably know at least one of them.

"Montes doesn’t waste any time establishing Teo’s creepiness rating, even as he slowly but steadily sets up the tapestry of what’s going to occur."

So who is Teo? He is a narcissist, for sure, and a sociopath/psychopath (I’ll let smarter people figure that out) who is hiding in plain sight as a medical student by day and as a quasi-dutiful son taking care of his semi-invalid mother by night. His life is forever changed when he meets a young woman named Clarice at a party that he is reluctantly attending. She engages in a bit of momentary flirtation with him (nothing of import, as happens at such gatherings), but he is immediately and irrevocably smitten. He decides that he must have her and begins stalking her before finally approaching her. She ultimately rejects him, but he is not inclined to take “no” as a proper response.

Teo kidnaps Clarice, taking her on a circuitous route through vacation spots in Brazil that are based in part on the synopsis for a screenplay she has been writing while using a combination of drugs and restraints to keep her compliant. Clarice, of course, is not exactly enthralled with this attention, and her parents --- not to mention Teo’s mother --- are wondering where their respective children are. Then, of course, there’s Clarice’s boyfriend. And girlfriend.

Yes, there are some very interesting people populating the pages of the ironically titled PERFECT DAYS, though none so much as Teo, who in his own mind can do no wrong and for whom the wishes of others are nothing more or less than unreasonable obstacles in his path, to be surmounted at any cost. There are, however, several twists and turns in the book, just enough to remind you of a drive downhill on a corkscrew road in a vehicle with unreliable brakes. About a third of the way through the book, you know that it’s going to end badly, but you’ll have no idea just how badly. Wow.

Montes doesn’t waste any time establishing Teo’s creepiness rating, even as he slowly but steadily sets up the tapestry of what’s going to occur. Please don’t look ahead --- the “Note from the Author” at the end of the book is just a few sentences long and among the best of those that I’ve ever read. I want to get my hands on Montes’ other books as soon as possible and hope that translator Alison Entrekin, who did such a good job here, is bringing her magic to his other work.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 3, 2016

Perfect Days
by Raphael Montes