The Silent Patient
PUBLISHED: February 2019
PUBLISHER: Celadon Books
PAGE COUNT: 325
GENRE: Thriller / Mystery
Plot at a Glance:
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…
Anyone who knows my reading habits knows that in between all the lighter fare genre fiction, I love to dive into a good mystery or suspense/thriller. There’s something about the adrenaline of an exciting story that I can get lost in, and helps to sort of hit a refresh button for me. This book definitely did not disappoint in that regard! I was hooked from the opening chapters of this one, and actually finished it in an afternoon.
Told from Theo’s perspective as he tries to treat and solve the mystery of Alicia Berenson’s mutism after the death of her husband, the prose is quick like a whip, almost clinical in what the author/narrator deems important enough to share with the reader. Paragraphs and chapters are kept short, ancillary details avoided as the narrative voice keeps to that singular point that is Alicia Berenson and how Theo’s perspective of her guides the story.
Michaelides also keeps the mystery fresh throughout the story. There were many times that I figured I knew what the final outcome of the story would be, and then moments later the author would have me second guessing myself. There are enough red herrings thrown in along the way that I was kept in suspense until the very end, but not in a way that frustrated me – which can happen with some suspenseful stories.
It’s super engaging, and surprisingly helps to paint Alicia in just as vivid a light as Theo. I came to really enjoy the enigma that was Alicia throughout the story. Why is she mute? What has she seen, heard and done?
The more that is revealed, the more questions I had about her, which is an author’s best weapon in their constant quest to cajole a reader to keep turning those pages.
One part of this book that fell a little bit flat to me were the other characters surrounding Theo and Alicia. Both the main characters are so well developed that some of the secondary characters in the story just didn’t feel as real to me. There were a number of characters within the hospital that Alicia is a patient at, and providers on staff there that I thought could have played a bigger role than they ended up playing.
I wasn’t too let down by it though, as the way the story plays out with Alicia is just so satisfying. This author is definitely going on my list of ones to keep an eye out for!
🌟🌟🌟🌟 – 4 out of 5 stars
Have you read this book? What did you think? Were you surprised by the twist? Let me know in the comments below!