The Five Lost Days

General Fiction

By William Petrick

Publisher : Pearhouse Press

ABOUT William Petrick

William Petrick
Bill Petrick's short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals, including Confrontation, Worcester Review, Palo Alto Review and The Distillery. His debut novel, THE FIVE LOST DAYS, is published through Pearhouse Press.Bill is a documentary producer/director who has created pro More...



Struggling documentary producer Michael Burns has traveled to the remote Maya Mountains of Belize to capture exclusive footage of the last surviving curandero. The traditional Mayan healer may hold the key to discovering new medicines among the vast, uncharted flora of the rain forest. But with a violent civil war spilling across the border from neighboring Guatemala - and Burns inexplicably drawn to the aging curandero's American apprentice - the filmmakers stumble into a more explosive story than they ever could have imagined.

At once an adventure and an exploration into the nature of perception, THE FIVE LOST DAYS exposes the clash between modern culture and ancient beliefs.

"With spare prose, a fascinating location, strong characters and a damn good story, Petrick takes us into journalism's heart of darkness; that is, the false sense of safety that comes with being the 'outsider,' the one who merely covers a story, versus the dangers of what might happen if one day you suddenly step away from the middle of the road and fall into your story..."
--Linda Ellerbee, journalist and author

"Petrick makes the Belize jungle come alive with the precise lyricism of his language. He's written a thinking man's adventure tale, laden with political, social and cultural significance--in the tradition of Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mr. Watson and Paul Theroux's The Mosquito Coast."
--Philip Cioffari, author of Catholic Boys and A History of Things Lost or Broken

"William Petrick's novel puts one in mind of James Dickey's Deliverance. Weaving taut prose with vibrant, sultry images, Petrick has composed a compelling, often startling narrative about the human folly of self-deception..."
--Peter Coston, playwright, Wiring

"You know you're in good storytelling hands when within the first five pages you can't stop reading. With masterful suspense, Petrick brings us into two little-known worlds: the mountains of Belize and television news production. Truthful and wise, The Five Lost Days is a debut novel that actually delivers..."
--Michele Mitchell, author of The Latest Bombshell

"One life can hold many secrets that may benefit the world. However, one life is also very fragile. 'The Five Lost Days follows aspiring documentarian Michael Burns as he goes on the search for the last curandero, a traditional healer of the Mayan culture. This individual, with his knowledge of the plants and flora of his home region, may be key to unlocking their medicinal properties. However, violent civil wars and many other events may snuff this knowledge out from the world for good. The Five Lost Days is an intriguing novel of adventure, sure to please fans of the genre."
--Midwest Book Review

"...From the moment I picked up this novel...I was hooked. Petrick's characters and their situation drew me in right away. Everyone in the novel is a shade a gray and have various hurts and regrets that are haunting their lives and makes the interaction between them fascinating and compelling. Burns thinks that he knows it all and can control the "characters" in his documentary just as much as he tries to keep his relationships under control so as not to have to confront whatever demons he harbors in his heart. He has a girlfriend back home who has never been able to get through to him, but he is intrigued by the possibilities of Kelly, the American scientist who also serves as the curandero's assistant. Kelly is equally intrigued by Burns, but she comes with baggage of her own, including a troubled marriage to her surly husband Frank, an aging revolutionary who has a few tricks up his sleeve. Burns' awakening as he interacts with Pedro, the curandero makes you wonder if it will be enough to help him start to heal his issues. I loved the shifting narratives which were delicately balanced throughout the novel so you got just enough of any one character to keep you interested while still balancing the story. The only time this got a little confusing was the abrupt entrance of some very minor characters toward the end. What's wonderful about this novel is that all the human drama and emotion is set against the back drop of civil war, the beauty of the rainforest, and a culture that moves at a much different place and with different beliefs than what the American filmmakers represent. The filmmakers have 5 days to shoot their documentary and they run into many problems as they try to impose their will on the world around them. The surprising ending leaves you to wonder what lessons any of them take from their experiences."
--Linus's Blanket

"THE FIVE LOST DAYS is a thrilling tale of ancient beliefs and local politics that will keep you begging for more."
--Jenn's Bookshelf

"So much about THE FIVE LOST DAYS appeals to my adventurous side. Taking place in Belize, a small Latin American country I long to see, it focuses on Michael Burns, a documentary film director who takes his crew to the jungles to film a "curandero." Curanderos are a sort of Mayan medicine man, close to extinction. Their focus on herbs and medicinal plants only heightened my fascination with the book. Kelly, an American who lives in the jungle with distant pot-smoking rebel husband Frank, works for an American pharmaceutical company. She was sent to Belize ten years previous to study the healing plants; in her love for the jungle and a deep affection for the elderly curandero, she stays on much longer than she’d originally intended. As Burns soon finds out, the five days he’s scheduled to film are considered in Mayan tradition to be The Five Lost Days - an evil time Mayans of the old ways see fit to stay home and wait out in fear. But the show must go on...if Burns can help it."
--carp(e) libris reviews

About the
William Petrick