I think it’s a sign of a good crime novel that the story makes you very, very, intensely uncomfortable.
I will admit that crime and suspense is not my area of expertise. There are people – my mother is one – who eat up crime dramas and police procedurals. And of course, there are plenty out there to consume, but for some reason I tend to avoid things that are too Law & Order, as they seem to be all the same.
However, y’all know I cant resist a sociopath.
I love fucked up people doing fucked up things, I love reading stories about the build up before someone snaps, I especially love when said sociopath has intimate medical knowledge and is fascinated by dead bodies. That, to me, is setting up for an incredible story that will keep me on the edge of my seat. I am the person who cheers for the bad guy.
And Teo is all those things – he begins by saying his best friend is the cadaver they practice on in medical school, that he feels isolated from his peers until he meets Clarice. Of course, like any person who is unfamiliar with, well, people, Teo misconstrues Clarice’s flirtations and becomes obsessed with her to the point of kidnapping her with the intention of making her fall in love with him. Now, I’ll point out that for the first maybe third of the novel, I am all for this. I want to see Teo go crazy, I want to see him keep Clarice drugged and tied to the bed, I am all for him telling people that they’re dating, they’re engaged, I am all for him lying to both of their mothers and digging himself into a deep, chaotic hole that he’ll never be able to get out of. I just can’t wait for all of the madness to unfold, you know?
But I slowly stopped cheering for Teo and cheering for madness. I began to get panicked, to be worried for Clarice and wishing for someone to come along and save her, or better yet, for her to find her own way out somehow. And this is due to Montes’ masterful writing. Slowly Teo becomes more and more despicable, even for me. Slowly we start to see the depths of his depravity and the extent of his misogyny and homophobia, which transforms from slightly cringeworthy to throw-the-book-out-the-window very quickly. Frequently Teo comments on how disgusting Clarice is for wanting to kiss girls, how she is better at cleaning because she’s a woman, he calls her his ‘Lolita’ (which is a huge red flag), and it gets to the point where you can’t wait for this motherfucker to meet his end.
And…well, you’ll get there.
But the truth is, Perfect Days defied all my expectations. Not only was it expertly written and deliciously creepy, but the twists and turns are expertly navigated to tear up your emotions.
Just make sure no one is in the way when you throw the book across the room.