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….
I know this book is super hyped so I was a little skeptical when I went in but I am happy to report that it’s well worth all that hype. The story has some great twists and I could not put it down, I was so wrapped up in what was going to happen next! I think it was a unique take on the typical psychological thriller and I’m more than excited to give future books by Alex Michaelides a read.
The story follows psychotherapist Theo Faber who gets a job at The Grove, a mental health facility that happens to house an artist named Alicia Berenson, who murdered her husband and hasn’t spoken a word since. Theo wanted the job specifically because of Alicia, who he has developed a fascination with that’s borderline obsessive, as he believes he will be the one that gets her to talk. Everything is told through Theo’s POV as he works with Alicia and pokes around for more information about her and her crime. He also tells us of his childhood, which wasn’t the best, and of his relationship with his wife. From here it mostly skips back and forth between his work on Alicia’s case and his personal life which is all a lot more interesting than I’m making it sound but I think the less you know the better because there are some intriguing twists. There are excerpts scattered throughout that are told in Alicia’s POV through diary/journal entries as well, I thought the inclusion of these really helped keep the story tense and suspenseful.
I was pretty much hooked right away, the writing quality is addictive and the story was so engaging that I had a hard time putting the book down to do anything at all. I found myself sneaking pages throughout my day just to try and find out more of what was going on! The mystery behind Alicia’s crime is captivating and the secrets Theo unveils throughout are very twisty. Then of course there’s the NEED to know if Alicia will talk by the books end as well, I think the whole center of the plot (Alicia’s silence) was a great motivator to push forward. That being said there is still no shortage of other shocking twists and turns. The pacing is very fast and my attention never faltered, this is most definitely a page turner and the chapters are kept short which I always feel makes them pack more of a punch.
I was also very surprised by the end reveal which is always a plus because I did NOT see that coming whatsoever, probably one of the best endings to a thriller that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I think everything was wrapped up nicely and there was just something about that last page and the way the author chose to close the story was just really satisfying.
I thought the characters were decently well done, I wasn’t blown away with them or anything but I didn’t think they were super boring or flat either. I enjoyed Theo and Alicia well enough, I thought they were complex in their own ways and honestly? Terrible people. That was the best part though, I enjoy reading about morally gray characters and I would say they both certainly are that. There are a few side characters such as Yuri, a nurse at the facility, and Dr. Diomedes who I really liked but overall I would say the secondary characters paled in comparison to our two main characters.
What I Loved:
- Addictive writing and very fast pacing
- Great twists sprinkled throughout the story
- The end reveal was shocking and well worth the wait
- Ending in general was very satisfying
- Morally gray, complex main characters
- Couldn’t put this one down!
What I Didn’t Love:
- Side characters weren’t that compelling
Overall this book is very entertaining and had me turning pages as fast as I could, I can see why everyone is ranting and raving over it! I would recommend checking out “The Silent Patient” for anyone looking for a great psychological thriller regardless of whether you’re a seasoned mystery/thriller reader or just starting out.
Trigger Warnings: Attempted Suicide, Murder, Violence, Gore, Assault, Self Harm, Sexual Assault, & Cheating