The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides, is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Famous painter, Alicia Berenson, appears to have the perfect life married to an in-demand fashion photographer, and lives in a grand house in one of London’s most desirable areas. Despite this seemingly perfect life, behind the closed doors of their lavish home, one evening Alicia shoots Gabriel five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. A whirlwind follows this shocking murder, but the most shocking and confusing part of it all is Alicia’s silence. Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation as to why she killed her husband and the events that led up to his death, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public‘s 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. Her case caught the eyes of many, but most of all captured the attention of Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist. Theo, who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia, develops an intense obsession. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path fueled by his own all-consuming motivation of knowing the truth. As The Silent Patient unfolds, readers slowly begin to untangle the chaotic and dangerous web that has been woven by both Alicia and Theo.
Though Theo's intentions seem harmless in his search to help Alicia, others around him grow seemingly concerned with his intensity and focus on healing Alicia. As Michaelides develops both Theo and Alicia’s stories, readers are welcomed into a mysterious, thought-provoking, and tangled world. As Theo’s personal life unfolded, I felt a prickle of uncertainty in the back of my mind about him, but couldn’t quite place a finger on what it was. And as I began to learn more of Alicia’s life prior to the murder, many questions arose, leaving my curiosity building with each page. Michaelides easily created an intense story that will lead readers on a seemingly consistent path. Yet, there are twists and a major turn that are truly unexpected. (As proof, I had to reread a few pages to make sure I was understanding the ending correctly because it was so shocking, I couldn't believe it). Reading The Silent Patient was like playing a game of cards with the author, and Michaelides was unknowingly holding a royal flush in his hands. It was a true psychological thriller that any fan of this genre will enjoy from the beginning to the very end.