The Silent Patient


Title: The Silent Patient

Author: Alex Michaelides

Year: 2019

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction

The Silent Patient is the best-selling debut thriller by Alex Michaelides, about a woman accused of murdering her husband who refuses to talk.

Alicia Berenson is the famous painter accused of murdering her husband Gabriel six years ago but refuses to speak about the events so has been moved into psychiatric care at into the Grove hospital. Her only comment on the murder has been the mysterious painting Alcestis, which depicts her and is named after the heroine who sacrificed herself for her husband in Greek mythology. 

Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who takes a job at the Grove. He has heard Alicia’s story and thinks he has a way of helping her to talk and recover. He is accepted in the job and meets Alicia and starts to conduct therapy sessions but she sits in complete silence. Is there a way or him to get through to her to reveal the truth?

Theo is also dealing with a personal matter as he suspects his wife Kathy is cheating on him. However as he becomes more deeply involved with Alicia the lines of professionalism become blurred and when the events of that fateful night do come to light what damage could it do for both of them?

The book is told for the most part from Theo’s perspective as we learn about his history and his problems with his father growing up which ultimately leads him to become a psychotherapist. However his observations interspersed with diary entries from Alicia which were written in the month leading up to the murder of her husband.

I was hooked right from the beginning of the story and really enjoyed the dynamic between these two characters and the ending of the book threw me completely off guard and is one of my favourite endings to a thriller in a long time. Though I have read some reviews consider the big twist to be a bit campy and cartoonish and whilst I agree it is a tiny bit over the top it was still a very good twist.

The story is also well paced with Alicia’s diary adding a lot of red herrings through the book on who might be responsible for Gabriel’s death – from the jealous adopted older brother Max, to the gallery owner Jean Felix angry at being ousted out of showing Alicia’s paintings and wanting revenge. Whilst I do think these side characters are a bit tropy and I did find Jean Felix annoying whenever he was in the book but it was interesting enough to keep me engaged over the central mystery.

I have also found some people have criticised the writing style Michaelides adopts but I do have to admit the actual storyline kept me so engrossed over what was going to happen next that I didn’t really pay too much attention to this which I guess shows the level of intrigue in the overall story.

Overall I would recommend giving this thriller a try, it is a very intriguing thriller and was enjoyable for me until the end, despite a couple of irritating side characters.

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