The Silent Patient

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways. —SIGMUND FREUD”

Alicia Berenson is a well-known painter, married to a seemingly perfect husband Gabriel – until one evening she shoots him 5 times in the face and never utters another word. The gruesome murder causes a frenzy in the media. She gives no defence or explanation, only reticence.

She’s locked away in a psychiatric institution called The Grove where Theo Faber appears – a psychotherapist who is intrigued by Alicia’s mind. He’s determined to get through to her. Despite everyone saying it’s hopeless, he is determined that only he can make her speak. The story slowly unveils the mystery behind Alicia’s psyche – her dark childhood and the tragic meanings behind her paintings. We also get glimpses of Theo’s home life, his secrets and his reasons for obsessing over solving Alicia’s case. “We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”

The Silent Patient, published in 2019,  is Alex Michaelidis’ first novel, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and winner of 2019 Goodread’s Choice Awards in the mystery and thriller category. It is a thrilling story of revenge and how deception can lead to gruesome actions. The book’s slow-burning revelations make it hard to put down. It keeps you wondering and desperate to know more – especially when Alicia’s diary comes to light. The narrative starts off quite slow but the complexity of the plot reveals chilling secrets later on. The themes of betrayal and Alicia’s inner monologue make you wonder how different people can be from what they seem.

The characters that Alec Michaelides has crafted are very intriguing. Alicia loved her husband – why would she hurt him? Who in her life knew the real Alicia? As the story unfolds we get to know Diomedes, Stephanie and Christian – the members of the Grove and Jean-Felix who worked at Alicia’s gallery. What is the reason behind her dead silence? She had a picture-perfect life so what really happened that evening?

The book has a clever plot with key-details of the mystery hidden in plain sight and seemingly minor details. The best part of the journey is definitely the jaw-dropping conclusion. This psychological thriller will keep you thinking for a while. The shocking end reveal and intricacy of the storyline makes it hard to believe that this is a debut novel. If you are looking for a mind-blowing mystery, the Silent Patient will not disappoint!