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by Raphael Montes and Alison Entrekin, trans.
Penguin, February 2016
272 pages
ISBN: 1594206406

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

With tinges of Patricia Highsmith's THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, Raphael Montes's new novel takes readers deep into the mind of a psychopath, in this case Teo Avelar. This Brazilian medical student is already deeply disturbed when reader meet him at the book's opening scene. His closest friend is a corpse he's learning on, and his only other companion is his mother, a paraplegic.

When his mother forces him to attend a party, by chance he meets Clarice, a spontaneous, lively young screenwriter and university student, who is his exact opposite. She soon becomes his obsession, and almost immediately thereafter, he takes to stalking the young woman, sure that they are meant to be together.

The stalking turns to abduction, when Teo kidnaps Clarice who is just leaving for an extended trip to work on her screen play, a road trip across Brazil, called PERFECT DAYS. Teo is sure that he can convince Clarice that they are perfect for each other, despite what it takes to entrap and confine her.

As time goes on, Clarice tries any number of tactics on Teo, but the situation escalates as the book moves forward to its unsatisfying conclusion. While it's apparent that Montes has ended the book in a very planned way (as the mystery's opening pages suggest), it remains the weakest part of the storyline.

Drawing readers into Teo's mind and showing them the disconnect between his belief in rationality and his distorted actions is the stronger part of the book and is likely to keep readers satisfied in the long run with the trade-off. Montes is a very talented writer, and already at a young age, his literary accomplishments are many. This book is one more feather in his cap.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, March 2016

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