“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides is a well-structured story of psychological suspense filled with shocks, revelations, and unexpected confessions. Famous painter Alicia Berenson was found covered in blood next to her dead husband Gabriel, who had been shot several times. Following her conviction for his death, she was committed to a care facility, and she has not spoken a word since.
Much of the story is told by Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who desperately wants to treat Alicia, while other parts of the story are told by Alicia in her diary. Theo arranges for a position at the psychiatric facility called “The Grove” where Alicia is housed. He is determined to unravel the mystery of the murder and to find the reason for her silence. He shares his professional aspirations, his own troubled childhood, his unsettled personal life, and his fears that his wife has been unfaithful.
Michaelides created characters with complex backstories that are slowly disclosed, piece by piece. The plot progresses at a slow, but steady pace as readers follow Theo’s careful, systematic work to communicate with Alicia and to facilitate her recovery. Little details fall into the story, inconsequential at first, but soon there is an avalanche of conflicting information, disconcerting discoveries, and traumatic events.
“The Silent Patient” takes readers on a startling journey with surprising twists and turns. The ending is unexpected and shocking. It will leave readers as speechless as Alicia.