The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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About the Book

Title: The Silent Patient

Author: Alex Michaelides

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Publisher: Celadon Books

Publication Date: February, 2019

Pages: 368, Paperback


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a psychological thriller and his first book. It is about a patient who has remained silent for years, and no one knows why she will not speak. 


**By the way, this review might contain spoilers** 



Meet Alicia Berenson, a celebrated painter whose life seems too perfect. She is famous, wealthy, and has a perfect marriage. Until she murders her fashion photographer husband in cold blood, five shots to the face, to never utter a word to anyone after this. Not to the police, her psychiatrists, or anyone else. Six years later, there is an open position for a forensic psychotherapist at the Grove, an institution where Alicia was committed after her trial. And Theo Faber is determined to treat Alicia as her new psychotherapist and make her speak.


We follow Theo through the pages as he tries to treat Alicia. Although she refuses to speak to him, he manages to unravel some details about her life through her friends and family. We also get other glimpses of Alicia’s prior life through her journal. Clearly, she loved her husband, who did everything to make her feel loved. All of these make it even more difficult to understand her actions. It even makes you question whether she was murdered in the first place. In the end, Alicia does speak and has some final journal entries that make us understand the reasons behind her actions. 


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What I think about the book

I will say this was an okay book. I am honestly torn between loving or hating the prose and the overall story. There were instances when the book was thrilling and fast-paced, especially in the first few chapters. But the ending felt rushed and with no suspense worth the wait. The beginning delivered the mystery and thrill you’d want in a psychological thriller. But I could not help but struggle with the timelines and the story as it progressed. 


While Theo is trying to treat Alicia in the present, a significant chunk of the story is in the past, and it gets confusing piecing these timelines together. More so when Theo talked about his romantic relationship and struggling with a cheating partner. Then it even got worse once the ‘big twist’ was revealed. 


There were too many inconsistencies, too. How can a patient in a psychiatric hospital, who is known to be suicidal, be allowed to have a pen for her journal entries? How did she manage to get admitted to the Grove with her journal? You’d think the police confiscated everything during the investigations. Maybe we can excuse all of this as a creative license for a work of fiction. But Alicia is injected and overdosed with morphine in her room, and she ends up in a coma. You can imagine the obscene amount of morphine someone would have to receive to knock them right into a coma! But she has enough time in her hands to write a whole expository journal entry? With precise details of everything that happened on the said night, from Theo’s involvement to why she did it? And more time to hide the journal? C’mon! 


The book could have done without some characters. They play no significant role in the overall story. Like her auntie and cousin. Even the brother-in-law. And Theo’s digging into Alicia’s life and interviewing people felt creepy and unwarranted. 


As I said, I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved it at some point. But once I was done and thought more about the story, I dialed down that star rating to a disappointed 3.


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My ★ Rating 3.0

Goodreads ★ Rating 4.15 (as of June 2022)

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