Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who transferred to The Grove Hospital in order to treat Alice Berenson. Alice has been admitted into the hospital after murdering her husband. The issue? Alice hasn’t spoken since she killed Gabriel. Not at her trial, and not to any other doctor since. The novel follows Theo’s attempt to unpick Alice’s mind and get her to speak about what led her to shooting her husband in the head 5 times. However, the more he uncovers the more we find out that Alice remaining silent is in a lot of people’s best interest.
The Silent Patient is such an immersive book that it didn’t take me long to finish at all. If not for my busy work schedule and other commitments, I could’ve easily finished it in 1 or 2 sittings. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, why? Because I’m huge on plot and boy did this book have one of my favourite plot twists out of all the books I’ve recently read. It was very Christie-esque – one particular Christie novel comes to mind but I don’t want to mention which one because that would really take the fun out of it! At its core, THE SILENT PATIENT is less of a psychological thriller (as many people would categorise it) and more of an extremely in-depth character study – what more would you expect from a novel that centers around a psychotherapist treating a murderer! Michaelides descriptions are so well written that Alice becomes such a beautiful enigma. I found myself so invested in this novel and wanting to find out what the hell was going on with this woman who refused to speak!
The book had so many red herrings in the form of family/friend interviews and I found myself falling for so many of them. But that’s what makes a good mystery/crime fiction novel in my opinion – the writer’s ability to cast doubt and keep us second guessing. I loved the multiple timelines and how well it fit into the overall plot of the book. I also really enjoyed the short chapters and different story telling mediums from Theo’s POV to Alice’s diary entries. Both POVs had a clear personality which was aided by the writing style.
Moving onto the cons of this book. Personally, I found the start of this novel somewhat slow. I was quite frustrated at first because it seemed glaringly obvious to me that you should just let Alice paint her emotions. If that was her biggest way to communicate before, and even after the murder, surely it’s logical to allow her the same medium if you wanted to understand her. Also, I feel like parts of it were inconsistent and didn’t make sense; Theo was searched upon his entrance into the hospital and his lighter was confiscated for “obvious reasons” but then throughout the novel, they’re all sharing cigarettes with each other on the premises… It also kind of frustrated me that when Theo was stalking his wife and her lover, there were times where he mentioned that he was so sure he had been seen yet somehow it was always a “close call” type situation. It would’ve been better if he was just good at hiding behind trees, buildings, phone booths… anything! I wouldn’t have minded if it was once or twice. But it was literally every time he stalked. Surely you’d be more careful the next time round? It felt like a lazy attempt to create suspense
Overall I think the novel was great and the plot really carried it over the 4 stars line. The plot twist was extremely unexpected due to the amount of red herrings throughout the book. Whilst some of the details were a bit inconsistent and confusing, it didn’t drag or slow down the book – the chapters were short and easy to follow. I also enjoyed the psycho-analysis and behavioral-analysis throughout the novel, as well as Michaelides’ confident prose. Honestly, if you want a book that will drop your jaw this one really did it for me!
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
Publication date: 05/02/2019
Paperback pages: 339