Author: Bey Deckard
Length: 160 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Transgressive, Psychological Thriller
At a Glance: There is a chilling thrill of psychopathy and a growing emotional and physical dependency in this story that makes every moment spent reading it horrifying and intense.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Fresh out of school, Dr. Crane takes on a new patient who both intrigues and unnerves him. Charming, manipulative, and amoral, Max has exactly the sort of mind Crane finds himself drawn to with fictional characters.
As Max weaves himself into Crane’s life, Crane realizes that while fiction might be safe, Max certainly is not.
When the professional line between them thins, who gets to define where one man ends and the other begins?
Review: Sometimes the best way to describe the mood and tone of a book is to draw a connection between it and something else. So, if you’ve ever seen the movie Primal Fear and recall the way you felt the moment Edward Norton’s character, Aaron, revealed himself at the end—not to mention the way Richard Gere’s Martin Vail must have felt in that exact moment he realizes he’s been played—then you’ll know how it feels to read this book. The only difference is that you’ll be treated to the shock and awe from the start rather than in a dramatic ten minute endgame.
At its core, Max is a book of psycho-sexual addiction and pathological manipulation, and is even, to a certain extent, a case of role reversal in the doctor/patient dynamic. Or, rather, the question in the end becomes which of these men needs psychological help more. There is a chilling thrill of psychopathy and a growing emotional and physical dependency in this story that makes every moment spent reading it horrifying and intense. It’s not many authors that can write a book starring a character who’s at once repugnant and at the same time fascinating, but Bey Deckard seems to do it with relative ease, and not only that but then makes you experience a certain level of like and something bordering on admiration for him too. From the moment Max was introduced, he kept me off balance, as he does Dr. Crane—the man who becomes a pawn in one of the sickest and most twisted games I’ve ever had the pleasure to read—and the fun of unraveling Max’s motives and attempting to decipher the payoff of each one of his actions is maddening. He is not only devious and intelligent but also lacks any sort of moral or ethical codes through which he filters his intentions and behavior. This is all paired with a biting wit and calculated charm and a contradictory passionate apathy that permeates his characterization.
Watching Dr. Dennis Crane’s life and mind slowly dismantled by Max’s premeditated methodology is a thing of beauty. There is a touch of the god complex at work in the way Max exploits Dennis’s weaknesses in an effort to remake him in Max’s own image–like two jagged-edged pieces of a disordered puzzle. And this book is why I love, have always loved, psychological horror—there’s something altogether too compelling about the fragility of the psyche when introduced to certain aberrant conditions, and it’s always the essence of the “what if” that makes this such a deeply disturbing read. Unlike the things that go bump in the night, it’s the everyday monsters we ought to fear, and it’s the depravity of the relationship that develops between Dennis and Max that introduces the dichotomy of loving someone so utterly despicable yet, at the same time, alluring.
Max is the antithesis of romance, and yet…there’s a bent sort of romanticism to the story as well. If you squint and tilt your head just so. Or, that could just be the addiction talking because there was nothing remotely healthy about the way Deckard intermingles these characters or resolves their storyline or obliterates the boundaries of safe, sane and consensual. Still, as much as I’m loathe to admit it, I was also looking for the fractured fairy tale ending. There was a sick bit of satisfaction in the way the author chose to resolve this story, in a way that remained true to the overall arc and could have worked only for these two characters.
It’s never clear when I read a book like Max whether it’s the author’s ability to come up with such atypical psychological scenarios that’s frightening. Or, if the scary part is my own obsession with the shock factor of it. Either way, this novel is just my kind of twisted.
You can buy Max here: