Review: The Silent Patient ~ by Alex Michaelides
323 pages ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense
2019 ~ Celadon Books
My Rating: 4/5
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.
Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.
And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?
The hype around this book and this debut author is definitely well deserved. The story is crafted so well, the writing is stellar, and there is so much attention to detail. It was insanely fast-paced and nearly impossible to put down once started. It keeps you guessing and questioning yourself the entire time. It was smart, suspenseful, unpredictable, and anxiety-inducing. Everything that you want from a good thriller!
Below are a few things I loved and a few things I had issues with:
What I loved:
- By far my favorite aspect of the book was the discussion of psychotherapy, the “talking cure” as Theo refers to it. The book questions the merits of therapy throughout. Questions like: how and why does psychotherapy work? What are the limits of therapy? Are some people beyond its effects? How much do we end up repeating our trauma regardless of being “cured?” You never for a second forget that Theo is a psychotherapist and his POV is uniquely colored by both his past, his own experiences with therapy, and his profession.
- Alicia was fascinating. I loved reading her journals and I felt that her voice was captured really well. Michaelides did a great job of creating a distinct voice for her that was drastically different from Theo’s. I would have liked more of Alicia’s past and her relationships with her father and husband, but I understand there is only so much room to do that in a thriller.
- Alicia’s use of the Greek tragedy of Alcestis in order to communicate was a brilliant connection. At first, it was so hard to see how the pieces of the tragedy were going to fit with Alicia’s story, but when they finally did, it added such a fascinating and heavy layer to the sadness of it all.
What I didn’t love:
- The book didn’t have the dark, creepy vibe that thrillers usually have, instead, this book was actually pretty freaking sad. I cried at the end and was kind of depressed. This is probably just me, I don’t really like stories that involve infidelity and child abuse- both of which are center stage here. So, if those topics are also not your cup of tea, probably best to avoid this one.
- The rest of my complaints involve the ending so I have created a section below that is full of spoilers…so proceed with caution. However, if you have read it, I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with me.
You have been warned. There will be spoilers below.
I would really hate to spoil anything for anyone, especially with a thriller.
- Ok, let’s talk about the ending. I have read a lot of reviews where people claim that ending took them completely by surprise. This was not the case for me. I had a feeling it was Theo the second he found out his wife was cheating on him and he started to follow her. So, about 25% into the book. However, I completely dismissed this theory because of one crucial piece of information that was intentionally left out of the entire book…….THE TIMELINE!! I thought, “there is no way the Theo theory works because Kathy is cheating on Theo 6 years after Alicia’s tragedy.” It was also at this point that I started thinking it was really strange that there were no years listed after any of the dates. I feel like Michaelides was kind of cheating us here. You can’t just leave the dates completely off and then say “Ha Ha I fooled you!” at the end. No! You didn’t fool me, you left off the freaking dates!! This seemed like a cheaters attempt at a twist if I am being honest.
Even though I obviously had reservations about the ending, the book was really enjoyable for all of the reasons that I mentioned above. I would definitely recommend it to other thriller lovers. I am excited to see what Michaelides writes in the future.
I listened to the unabridged audiobook on Audible narrated by Jack Hawkins from the BBC’s Call the Midwife and Louise Brealey from the BBC’s Sherlock. Both actors did an amazing job of bringing this story to life. If you are an audiobook fan, this is definitely one to check out. Link here Audible
For more information on Alex Michaelides and his books- Click here Alex Michaelides to find him on Goodreads.