THE SILENT PATIENT
Written by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books, February 5th, 2019
My star rating – 5 stars
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… Find it on Goodreads
A psychological murder mystery/thriller……. hmmmm…. have you EVER seen me read one of these? I don’t think you have! Here’s the thing – I don’t usually like them. I find the writing dry, the character assholes, and the plot twists easy to see coming. And then there’s the fact that i’ve been BURNED with hyped murder mysteries and thrillers (cough, cough, Gone Girl, cough, cough) so I’m always apprehensive as hell because I HATED that book. But your girl can only see so many rave reviews before she gives in. Not only did I enjoy this book but I loved it so much I rated it 5 stars! No one is more shocked than me!
Almost immediately I was drawn in by the writing style. There was just something so smooth and inviting about it. The writing was simple but not too simple. The sentence structure and paragraphs were still well formed and complex but it was easy to fly through. I read it so quickly without even realizing it! But the way he found a way to continue the intrigue and mystery was what pushed me to read the fastest. He found a way to effortlessly create intrigue and intensity. The smallest of things were mentioned in such a way that you hung off every word as you tried to piece together the puzzle.
But let me back up for a minute and talk about the story itself. We are introduced to Theo as he talks about the case of Alicia Berenson. She was convicted of the murder of her husband and she hadn’t spoken a single word since that fateful night. He became obsessed with the mystery of why she killed her husband so, naturally, when an opportunity arose for him to work in the very institution she was living in, he jumped on the chance. A woman who once seemed so successful just one day snaps and shoots her husband and then she falls silent and never defends herself. Why?? Was she abused and no one knew? Was there another person involved and she was so traumatized that she couldn’t speak? Was there an underlying mental issue that was only increased with his death? I NEEDED to know! That plot line was enough to catch me hook, line, and sinker.
But it was the characters that pulled the plot through as successfully as it did. Theo is a criminal psychotherapist who can relate to his patients. He suffered trauma from his own childhood, and a psychotic episode that brought him to this profession. Being able to relate to his patients is what made him so good at his job. He also knew that it was a lifelong process dealing with his mental health and was still working through his own problems. As he was trying to figure out the mystery of Alicia, he was struggling with his personal life which was falling apart at an impressive rate. This side plot added so much depth and layers to the plot.
Alicia’s character was a little more interesting. Since she didn’t speak it was hard to get a handle on her. There wasn’t that much of a character arc for her – she was stagnant and holding her silence. Instead, we learn about her past through Theo as he’s trying to get a grip on the person he’s trying to help. He was searching for the real story without being able to ask her himself. He was trying to figure out what he could say or do that might invoke some emotion or reaction from her. She was successful, interesting, broken, flawed, passionate, and so many other things but, here she was, silent as a ghost and not doing anything about the death of her husband. I was confused as to how I should think of her. On one hand I was in awe but then I would feel such sadness. She was strong but so broken. As Theo works with her and pieced together the events of that night and the events that accumulated to bring that night about, it is all revealed and you’re confused all over again, but in the best way possible!
And that ending – what a mind fuck!!! I’m not even kidding! I normally see things coming a mile away but not this time! I sat there like an idiot with my jaw on the floor! I ended up rereading a few pages FOUR TIMES just to make sure I read it right! It wasn’t confusing – that’s not why I reread it. I reread it because it was so incredible and shocking! Connections are made and the whole thing wrapped up into something I never could have imagined! The reality of the situation was just so mind blowing! It’s honestly the best psychological thriller/murder mystery ending I’ve ever read! I’m still reeling honestly!!
I wish I could say more but, I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling a single thing. This is the type of book that is best when served blind. Don’t read too much and research too much into it. Just pick it up and let Theo tell the story. I wish I could talk spoilery because that ending was just too much!! I can’t wait to read more from this author! This was seriously fantastic!!
Until next time, happy reading!