The Silent Patient | By Alex Michaelides
Book Review | Mystery Thriller
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….
Narrative and Plot
The Silent Patient has already become a must-read in the psychological thriller genre. It became a trendsetter and there have been other thrillers that follow the suit with the premise of mental health.
However, dealing with mental health, especially as a part of the plot and not as a mere plot device, is quite a thin line. This particular book navigates that delicate balance almost to perfection. It builds a specific narrative that develops into a page-turner.
The intricate plot that gives nothing away makes you desperate to find out more, much like the protagonist.
Characters and Conflicts
Theo and Alicia are the central characters in the story. Beyond the suspense and the thriller element, this is a sort of dance between the two. It might require a second reading to appreciate the characters better.
Alicia’s silence is the central part of the story. As the plot unravels, it delves deep into the area of psychic disorders and how Alicia’s silence is perceived by those around her.
Theo’s journey along with the readers reveals the truth about this story. It could go two ways. However, the storytelling technique must be appreciated regardless of whether you like it or not. It was one of a kind and it surely won’t work again if repeated, which is the case with several other thrillers in the same genre.
The Silent Patient is a gripping thriller. The kind that would make you sit through all night (or day) and read it in one go. If you haven’t read it yet, grab your copy and go for it. You would either love it or hate it, there won’t be a middle ground.