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?
Compulsive is one word you could use to describe The Silent Patient. It was one of my most anticipated reads that I picked up in Harrogate at the Theakston Crime Festival earlier this year. It is highly addictive and it really takes you into the minds of its characters and explores their psychology. Alex Michaelides writing draws you into the story as the protagonist, Theo Faber, attempts to break the silence of convicted murderer, Alicia Berenson who has been rendered mute for six years and has spent that time in The Grove, a psychiatric unit. Theo has become obsessed with her case, but can he finally be the one to find out what really happened the night she shot her husband dead? When an opportunity arises to join The Grove as a psychiatrist he jumps at the chance, determined to reach out to Alicia.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I couldn’t wait to find out if Theo was going to achieve his goal. I think the anticipation of wondering if this was going to be the moment that Alicia spoke is what made most parts of this book a really intense read and Alex controlled this really well, it did keep me turning those pages, and reading onto the next chapter.
There is some excellent character development here; we have Theo, who is mysterious and unnerving, and Alicia who I wanted to get to the bottom of, and find out what was really going through her mind the night she killed her husband, Gabriel. Like Theo, I wanted to drag the answers out of her and I couldn’t wait to see what she finally had to say. Although we don’t hear from Alicia, we do have her diary extracts, which again I raced through as I was reading as I tried to uncover what really happened.
This is very much a psychological story, and the reveals that came at the end of the book left me thinking, whoa, and I had to flick back just to see what it was that I had missed but it definitely did make so much sense and the way in which everything was pulled together was very good. The tension is really turned up a notch in the final chapters.
The Silent Patient has bestseller written all over it. It’s tightly plotted and very well written. I’m looking forward to seeing what Alex Michaelides comes up with next. If you’re a fan of character-driven psychological thrillers, then you should definitely pick up this book.
Publication date: 7th February 2019
Print length: 352 pages