Desert Isle Keeper
The Silent Patient
Twisty novels of psychological suspense are among my favorite things to read, so I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of Alex Michaelides’ début novel The Silent Patient. It’s everything I want in a thriller and then some, and I can’t wait for my fellow booklovers to read it.
Alicia and Gabriel are a successful couple living in one of the most elite areas in North London. She is a well-known painter and Gabriel is a fashion photographer, and everyone who knows them thinks they’re the perfect couple… but something dark is brewing beneath the surface of their marriage.
One night, Gabriel returns home late from a photo shoot. Alicia is waiting for him, and as soon as he enters the house, she shoots him five times in the face. A neighbor hears the shots and calls the police; they arrive to find Alicia sitting near Gabriel’s body with the gun resting beside her, but she refuses to answer any of their questions. In fact, she never speaks another word.
Six years later, the still silent Alicia is hidden away from the prying eyes of the public at The Grove, a secure psychiatric hospital where she has lived ever since Gabriel’s death. She hasn’t been responsive to treatment, and the medical professionals responsible for her care are pretty baffled. And then Theo Faber comes on the scene.
He’s a bright and ambitious psychotherapist, and he’s sure he can get Alicia to talk. In fact, he applied for a job at The Grove for the sole purpose of working with her. At first, his superiors doubt his ability to work successfully with this challenging patient, but Theo is determined to prove them wrong. But as time passes and Alicia holds tight to her silence, Theo’s determination turns into a darkly dangerous obsession.
If you’re someone who loves books with unreliable narrators, The Silent Patient is absolutely something you should pick up. We see things mostly from Theo’s point of view, and it’s obvious pretty early on that he has some kind of ulterior motive for working with Alicia. Fortunately, the author does a great job keeping that motive a secret until the very end, and I was utterly astonished when I finally discovered what was going on.
I really loved the way the author chose to tell this particular story. We see most things through Theo’s lens, but we are also treated to excerpts from Alicia’s diary. This allows the reader to feel like they’re getting to know Alicia, even if we’re not completely sure we can trust her perceptions. Both Theo and Alicia are complex characters with quite a bit going on inside their heads, and I was completely captivated by the slowly unfolding chain of events.
The pacing of this novel is absolutely wonderful. The author has achieved a superb balance between the action-packed qualities of a thriller and the more introspective scenes found in a lot of today’s literary novels. I never felt bogged down by the amount of detail I was given, and I was glued to my iPad until I reached the end of the book.
Fans of tightly-plotted thrillers can’t go wrong with The Silent Patient. It exceeded all of my many expectations, and I’m super excited to see what other gems this author has in store for the world.