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….
Much in the same vein as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Silent Patient has garnered tons of attention as an intense, shocking, and, at times, disturbing psychological thriller that is sure to sit on bestseller lists for some time. Heck, it’ll probably be made into a movie in the next year or two.
But, is it worth the hype? Well, if you enjoy page-turning thrillers and don’t mind being apart of the masses, then absolutely.
With Michaelides being a debut author, no one really knew what to expect from his first novel and I was hesitant to believe all of the talk; but when I saw that Blake Crouch loved it (and I LOVE Black Crouch), I boarded the hype train to hypesville and didn’t sleep a wink.
The Silent Patient is a gripping-from-page-one type of thriller that culminates in a rather “I did NOT see that coming” climax, much like Ian Reid’s ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Having said that, the characters do not have much staying power as I would’ve liked. I finished the last page, smirked at the author’s craft of weaving the threads of story in and out with precision, and the moved on to my next book.
Yes, I know that not every author writes their story with fully fleshed characters, but there is typically at least one that the reader can engage with. If any of them came close, it would’ve probably been Alicia. Though silent, we see her past in diary excerpts throughout the novel and become embroiled in her story. And it is quite a story, let me tell you.
All in all, this feels like the perfect Spring Break/Summer Vacation read. It is a pretty quick read, not because of length, but because of the inability to put it down. It is an absolute page-turner.