The Silent Patient is one of the most talked about books I’ve seen this year, and now having read it, I understand why – it is a mightily impressive debut.
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.
Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.
And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?
I flew through this novel, reading the majority of it in one day; short chapters and interesting characters ensured it had my full attention. A slow (but steady) burner, brimming with suspense, and the psychology of it all – brilliant!
Michaelides made excellent use of the psychiatric setting in this novel, using it to create a tense atmosphere, tense because Alicia will not speak, and the reader waits with bated breath to hear her first words. Also, day to day, a psychiatric unit is never predictable, leaving this plot open to so many possibilities when detailing events. Yes, certain liberties were taken with this setting, but in the realm of crime fiction, it is totally allowed!
Interspersed are Alicia’s diary entries, and for someone who isn’t speaking, these give all the insight, and feed the readers desire to understand what happened, and most importantly, why.
To perhaps a seasoned crime fiction reader, you can gage the direction of the plot, but The Silent Patient is filled with so many unseen parts that it’d be difficult to complete the entire puzzle, with not a piece out of place – until Michaelides decides it’s time to reveal all, this novel will have you reaching for the reason for Alicia’s silence. There was one particular thing that happened in this novel that really ‘sealed the deal’, I don’t want to enter spoiler territory so I cannot tell you what it was, but I mention it because it showcased the thought that went into the plot, and the brilliance of the delivery. The choice to narrate this story mainly from Theo’s point of view was spot on. While there are several characters in this novel, Michaelides does a brilliant job of drawing your attention to Alicia and Theo, making them central, ensuring that this plot kept its focus and your attention.
I briefly mentioned the psychology of this plot at the start of the review, and I think, for me, that was a large part of the success of this novel. The psychology of Alicia’s characters was so interesting. I love when psychological thrillers really home in on the psychological, thrill my mind, bonus points when you draw out the mental health nurse in me and have me analysing the best therapy for Alicia and what her actions meant.
I’ll be the first to say, there are a lot of mediocre psychological thrillers out there, but The Silent Patient is not one of them. I absolutely recommend it, it’s one of my favourite reads of the year so far!
*My thanks to the publisher (Orion) for providing me with a copy of this book*