Alicia Berenson leads a perfect life with her doting husband, Gabriel. She is a famous painter working on her next gallery exhibition. He is a popular fashion photographer working on his next big shoot. Together they live in a sprawling house located in one of London’s most coveted areas. One night the police are called to their house. Gabriel has been been shot five times in the face by Alicia, who sits in the corner with her wrists slit. She won’t utter a word. Alicia refuses to speak to the police, refuses to declare her innocence or guilt, refuses to say one word. She find herself sentenced to a life in the Grove, a secure institution.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has followed Alicia’s story since the day it broke the news. He has finally tracked her down to the Grove, where he takes a position on staff. Theo is determined to get Alicia to speak and reveal the truth about what happened the night she murdered her husband. As he gets closer to the truth he finds himself falling further and further into Alicia’s world. Will the case consume him or will he find answers?
Alex Michaelides debut novel, THE SILENT PATIENT, is a character study done with precision. Michaelides has meticulously plotted out one of the best stories I have recently read in the crime fiction genre. With each new part to the story and each new chapter the reader unpacks a little more about Alicia and Theo, until they find themselves with their jaw on the floor at the end. I have to say, I didn’t see that coming! The way the ending came together was absolute perfection, but it’s just one piece of this book that I loved.
When I first read the synopsis for THE SILENT PATIENT I made the assumption that Alicia would be narrating, but Theo is actually the one who takes center stage. I love that Michaelides chose to focus on Theo and tell Alicia’s story through his eyes. The narrative is laid out in a way that allows the reader to dig deeper into Alicia’s past alongside Theo, while also being immersed into Theo’s past and present. As the reader is putting the clues surrounding that murderous night together, you get the feeling that something isn’t right. Someone is hiding something. That sense of tension and anxiety that builds because of this feeling makes the book an effortless read. I found myself lost within it’s pages for hours at a time.
One of my favorite aspects of this book are the snippets of Alicia’s journal. These entries are sporadically interspersed throughout the book at just the right moments. They’re moments when the doubts about Alicia or that night are high and you need some clarity to the facts being revealed through Theo’s narrative. They also give a voice to the woman who knows the truth. Are her words ones you should believe?
I can’t say enough good things about this book and I certainly don’t want to give anything away. THE SILENT PATIENT is intoxicating, deceptive, and absolutely brilliant! It is a book that will linger with you far past putting it down. Trust me, you want this book on your TBR!