- The Silent Patient.
- Alex Michaelides.
- 320 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
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….
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I’ll start simply with this one sentence, holy shit this book is good!
Alicia Berenson is a famous painter who lives with her husband Gabriel, a famous fashion photographer. On the surface, they seem to have it all until one day Gabriel arrives home late from a photography session and Alicia shoots him dead five times in the face.
After the murder Alicia doesn’t speak again, she is mute, silent, not a word is uttered by her. Her silence is deafenening, there is no explanation as to the reasons why she won’t speak or for what occurred. The only communication she offers to the world is with a self-portrait that she paints days after the murder and names ‘Alcestis‘.
Under diminished responsibility for the murder, Alicia is admitted to The Grove, a secure psychiatric unit. Six years later, 42-year-old Theo Faber who is obsessed with the case gets a job as a forensic psychotherapist at The Grove with the intention of uncovering the truth and helping Alicia who has been languishing with no improvement and who still won’t speak, she is The Silent Patient.
The story told by Michaelides isn’t action-packed, instead, The Silent Patient is a very character-driven and clever head-scratcher of a read. Determined to unravel the mystery of Alicia’s refusal to speak Theo visits and talks to a variety of people from Alicia’s life. Those who knew her the best and those who had contact with her in the days before the murder took place, her neighbour, her cousin, her brother in law and the gallery owner where her art was exhibited all give Theo additional insight into Alicia. Gradually, with those accounts and through the therapy sessions with Alicia Theo begins to get a clearer image of her history, her life, her mental state, who she was and of the events that preceded the murder of her husband.
The Silent Patient is written from the point of view of Theo with entries from a journal written by Alicia (which allow us to see deeper into her thoughts) that she was keeping before she murdered Gabriel. Even though The Silent Patient is the debut by Michaelides there is something assured in the way that he writes managing to effortlessly lure you in and without realising it you will be riveted by the story that he is telling.
As is standard with a psychological thriller there are many twists, turns and revelations involved in The Silent Patient and Michaelides takes his story down some dark, disturbing, paranoid and unsettling avenues in search of the truth. I thought that the therapy aspect which is integral to the story was really interesting and I found it to be well incorporated adding complexity and depth. I also liked the addition of and the influence of the Greek myth and tragedy that ran throughout The Silent Patient, it is only a small thing but it’s a nice touch, has a role to play and adds a little something extra to the story.
With The Silent patient, Michaelides has written a slow-burning type of book and one that is the epitome of a page-turner. Sometimes, you just know from the first page that you are in for something special and that was the case with The Silent Patient, I was gripped from the start and devoured the whole book in a day. Yes, it is thoroughly addictive. The story simmers, slowly burrowing away under your skin with Michaelides incrementally ramping up the suspense and keeping you guessing before hitting you with an absolute corker of a shocking reveal that comes out of nowhere and totally floors you.
I’ve classed the book as the epitome of a page-turner and it would be remiss of me if I didn’t add to that, that the twist is the epitome of a ‘what the fuck‘ moment. One that makes you put down the book, stop reading, gather your thoughts and try to make sense of what you’ve just read.
The Silent Patient has ‘hit‘ written all over it. If you are a fan of thrillers then it is definitely one to keep an eye out for and one that you don’t want to miss when it is released in February 2019.
Pre-order The Silent Patient (released February 5th, 2019 in the US and February 7th, 2019 in the UK).
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: