THE SILENT PATIENT
By Alex Michaelides
Publication Date: 7th February 2019
Format: ARC (320 pages)
Source: From Publisher
Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…. (Goodreads)
The Silent Patient is a book that I have found difficult to write a review about. Its not that the book is bad, but I have found it so difficult to write something that both justifies the book and doesn’t give away the big reveal because this IS a book that needs to be read without being aware of the final act. Think (and I apologise to anyone who hasn’t seen this film) but just think if someone had told you how good The Sixth Sense and also told you the truth about Bruce Willis’s character. (I am neither confirming nor denying that either character actually turns out to be exactly like the reveal in that film).
What I can say is that when it got to “that” bit in The Silent Patient, I literally threw down the book as if it bit me and swore out loud. Regardless of the fact that I had work the next morning and it was WAY past the time I usually go to my bed, I had to finish this book. Nothing could stop me from reading the conclusion to this explosive story.
The Silent Patient is mainly told from Theo’s point of view and his apparent professional interest in trying to get Alicia, the silent, yet infamous murderess, to open up and tell him what happened on that fateful night. As Theo slowly chips away at the impenetrable shell, you get small snippets of Alicia coming through, especially as she begins to paint again. He also attempts to find out more about Alicia by speaking to her friend/the curator of the local Art Gallery. This professional interest becomes something much deeper and a little bit darker, to the point that it seems to cross many ethical lines. This is to the point that he begins to carry out many questionable actions that not only cross a line as a therapist, but are also pretty illegal. Yet, the reasons behind this still remain a mystery… until the last third of the book. It was at this point I threw down the book and swore out loud in a state of shock. It forced me to re-evaluate everything that came before. Never has a book had this impact on me.
As for Alicia, we only get to know her through the journal that she kept. It is through these entries we see a woman, who on the outside, had the perfect marriage. Yet, we quickly see the cracks in the relationship she has with Gabriel. Though there appears to be no big event or reason for her to have killed him. It was easy to empathise with Alicia and her plight, so what happens at the end is even more poignant.
By the time I finished this book, I was emotionally exhausted and I knew that I could not read another in this genre. This was the major hint that this was a book that more than lives up to the hype
The Silent Patient left me speechless by the time I had finished the book. This is a fantastic debut due to the excellent writing and character development. For a debut writer Michaelides can more than hold his own against the more established authors of the genre. I can’t praise this book enough and it should go on fans of domestic thrillers to read lists.
ALEX MICHAELIDES ONLINE