The Silent Patient is a Sunday Times bestselling thriller by Alex Michaelides.
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 read through this book very quickly. In a matter of a couple days in fact. This is a very fast paced thriller that keeps you turning the page.
This is not a murder mystery. You know from the beginning who killed Gabriel. What you don’t know is why…….and as the murderess remains silent, no-one else knows why either.
So instead of a who-dun-it, the story follows the psychotherapist as he attempts to discover why the killer has not spoken since the killing.
Most of the action takes place in The Grove, a secure psychiatric hospital. Much reference is made to childhood traumas and how upbringing shapes people into adulthood.
There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, as you begin to wonder what really happened on that fateful night. As I read I spotted clues to some of the twists but others were a complete surprise.
At the end of the book, all the secrets are revealed. So you could say its a satisfying ending. However, I was not left with a feeling of completeness. Maybe that’s just the way the story affected me. The end left me feeling unnerved.
How much do childhood traumas influence adult behaviours and what do we all have buried deep within our psyche, that we’ve consciously forgotten?