Book review: 'The Silent Patient' by Alex Michaelides
"But why does she not speak?" Alcestis, Euripides
That quote sums up the mystery that is within The Silent Patient by Michaelides. The book from begining to end is the quest of psychotherapist Theo Faber to find out why Alicia Berenson, a talented painter, murdered her husband Gabriel and why she has not uttered a word since. Not one in six years. Not one word in defense of herself, proclaiming guilt or innocence. Not one word as to why. Not one word of remorse, despair, or grief. Only silence.
To further the mystery, we are given snippets of Alicia's diary, which repeatedly declares her love and devotion to her husband. Not once does she introduce a hint of what's to come. We are often left thinking, maybe she's not guilty. Alicia is declared insane and admitted thereafter to the Grove, a secured facility. Theo Faber is fascinated with the case and wants nothing more than to somehow be able to treat her and get her to speak and tell the story of what happened that fateful day. Faber jumps at the chance to be a part of her medical team when a position opens up at the Grove for a foresenic psychotherapist.
What follows is nothing short of fascinating; so many characters that leave you wondering if they had anything to do with Gabriel and Alicia's demise. Just when it seems you have the story figured out, Michaelides throws in a twist and you are left continuing to wonder how the tale will end.
I enjoyed this book and the brilliance with which Michaelides writes. For a debut novel it's impressive how well he wrote the psychological aspect of the characters. As with many other books, I didn't love his overuse of the F-word, but that is really my only complaint with this novel. It was entertaining, kept me guessing, and ended in a way I did not see coming. I hope Alex Michaelides continues to write and churns out more great psychological thrillers.