Blurb from Goodreads:
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…
You know a book is good when you start recommending it to as many friends as you can right after turning the last page, just so you can all talk about it. The Silent Patient is a bloody good book. It is an intriguing, shocking, and well-written psychological thriller. Such a brainteaser! It has an interesting premise, a captivating plot, and enigmatic main characters. Add Alex Michaelides’ smooth and gripping writing style to that and we have an utterly compelling book.
“We often mistake love for fireworks—for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm—and constant.”
The mystery that surrounds Alicia and her silence, and the many unanswered questions about her husband’s murder is at the center of the story. Why would Alicia—a successful woman with a prominent career, a beautiful life, and a happy marriage—shoot her husband and then refuse to utter a single word? Not even to deny the crime or defend herself. Now that’s a hook that will surely keep readers flipping pages because we just have to know why.
“Choosing a lover is a lot like choosing a therapist. We need to ask ourselves, is this someone who will be honest with me, listen to criticism, admit making mistakes, and not promise the impossible?”
This book has alternating POVs going back and forth between Alicia’s diary entries and Theo’s—her psychiatrist—perspective. We follow Theo’s voice for the most part as he tries to communicate with Alicia and even goes to great lengths to figure out why his patient did what she did. He’s devoted to his job as a psychotherapist, but it’s also clear that Theo have a few issues of his own which will make you question if he’s really up to the task. I’m usually not a fan of unreliable narrators but in this book it somehow added more weight to the mystery. Not knowing whether you should trust and believe Theo—or even Alicia—only made me more eager to know the truth.
“Love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”
We see Alicia’s side of the story through her diary which gives us an idea of the kind of life she has prior to the night of the murder. She’s the perfect wife to her loving husband. But there were obviously things—dark ones—that she deliberately tried not to include in her diary which made Alicia an even bigger question than Theo. The secrets that she keeps makes her character so intriguing. She’ll make you adore her one moment and doubt her the next. I found myself rooting for her at one point and terrified of her in another. She’s the biggest mystery in this book.
The twist wasn’t that huge but big enough to be surprising. I did figure some things out before it was all revealed, but this didn’t lessen my enjoyment because there’s beautiful layers of mystery, crime, and suspense to this book. Then there’s its fascinating characters whose flaws made The Silent Patient a really suspenseful read. This has been one of the best debut thriller for me, and I’m definitely curious about what more Alex Michaelides has in store.