Book Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Number of Pages: 325
The Silent Patient Book Review (Alex Michaelides)
“You become increasingly comfortable with madness – and not just the madness of others, but your own. We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”– Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient Novel
‘The Silent Patient’ is the debut novel of author and screenwriter Alex Michaelides. Soon after its release, it topped The New York Times Bestseller list. It even won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery and Thriller.
It is the story of an artist named Alicia Berenson, who seems to live a happy life with her husband Gabriel, who is a popular fashion photographer.
One night, when Gabriel comes back from work, she shoots him five times in the face and stops speaking. She does not even defend herself. She expresses herself only through a painting titled ‘Alcestis’–a bizarre self-portrait. Nobody can decipher what she wants to convey through her painting; nobody knows why she killed the person she loved.
Soon after the incident, her paintings gain tremendous popularity. People throng the art gallery to see ‘Alcestis’.
Alicia is taken to the Grove, a highly secured forensic unit in London, and remains there under medication, along with many other criminals with psychological disorders.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychologist who is determined to solve the mystery of Alicia’s silence and find out why she killed Gabriel. He starts working at the Grove for the sole purpose of treating Alicia. During the course of Alicia’s treatment, distressing incidents from the past lives of both Theo and Alicia begin to surface. Soon enough Theo becomes obsessed with Alicia’s mystery.
One by one, several characters emerge in the story who have a direct and indirect influence on Alicia’s life and may have the keys to unlock Alicia’s secrets.
The storytelling of The Silent Patient book is gripping and ‘unputdownable’.The author has been successful in keeping the reader engaged till the end. I like the way the story progresses through different perspectives of the same incidents.
The subject matter is well researched. Alex Michaelides himself had studied psychotherapy for three years and worked as a psychotherapist for two years. The use of a Greek legend as a pivotal part of the story is worthy of praise. There are a number of well-crafted spine-chilling moments that intensify the thrill of the story.
The idea is fresh, but the motive of the murder is not. Some of The Silent Patient characters have weirdly exaggerated traits, and their actions are beyond explanations. For example, how can a person manage to write a long entry in a diary and have the time to conceal it cleverly after receiving a high dose of morphine?
The suspense builds up at a perfect pace, but the author seems a little bit too hurried in reaching the twist towards the end. The truth hits the reader quite abruptly, and some of the links remain incomplete.
The Silent Patient book by Alex Michaelides is overall an entertaining and enjoyable read. Readers who have extensively read thriller novels may not marvel at it. It can serve as a good starter to readers who have begun exploring the genre of psychological thrillers.
Book Review by Ria Banerjee
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