The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was selected as the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 Winner for Best Mystery and Thriller. The publisher’s blurb states: “The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.” The movie rights have already been purchased. I decided to see if it lived up to all the hype.
One night, up and coming artist Alicia Berenson was found standing beside her dead husband, with her own wrists cut and a rifle nearby. After her guilty verdict for murder, Alicia was placed in the secure psychiatric unit of a private hospital called The Grove. Alicia has continuously refused to speak in the years after his death. She did paint one final piece of work, a self-portrait, based on a Greek tragedy The Alcestis by Euripides. In the Alcestis, the main character agrees to die so her husband can live. She is then returned from death, but never speaks again.
Knowing that Alicia is a patient at the Grove, Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, gets a job there so he can treat her. Since Alicia does not speak during therapy, Theo begins interviewing people who knew Alicia prior to the murder. This is strictly against the rules set out by his supervisor and seems very suspicious. Theo is also dealing with his own issues, including a horrific home life as a child, and problems with his wife. Alicia has kept a diary of events leading up to the murder that is shared with the readers along the way. While Alicia’s diary is chronological, Theo’s narration has an uncertain timeline. This leads to many red herrings and plot twists. This book isn’t a “whodunnit” so much as why was it done. It held my attention to the end.
My rating: 4-Stars.
“Her silence was like a mirror – reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”