Book Review – ‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.

Sometimes I think –

No. I won’t write about that.

ALICIA

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.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced that 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?

Thank you to NetGalley, Orion books and Alex Michaelides for the chance to read and review this book.

On a scorching summer night, 33-year-old painter Alicia Beresford is discovered covered in blood, standing rigid and frozen in her living room, while the body of Gabriel, her husband of seven years, sits tied to a chair.  She had shot him five times in the head with his rifle and then slit her wrists to attempt suicide. She is taken to hospital but doesn’t make any statements of guilt or innocence, in fact Alicia doesn’t speak at all. Her only “statement” was a painting done after discharged from the hospital and put under house arrest while awaiting trial. It is self portrait named Alcestis, after the greek heroine, and it’s meaning remains a mystery.  Six years later psychotherapist Theo Faber, who has been obsessed with the case since it occurred, applies for a job at the hospital she’s being treated. He is sure he can reach her, get her to speak again and discover the truth about what happened that night.

I was so excited to be approved for an ARC of ‘The Silent Patient’.  I had seen a lot of buzz about it on Bookstagram and I loved the description. I  couldn’t wait to decide for myself how good this book really was.

The story is written in the past tense by Alicia’s psychotherapist, Theo. It also contains entries from the diary Gabriel encouraged her to write in the weeks leading up to his death.  These pages give us an insight into who she is, or was, while she remains silent, and enables the reader learn secrets being kept and lies being told by some of the people closest to Alicia.            

This book is as much a story about Theo as it is about Alicia and Gabriel.  Like Alicia, Theo is a broken, damaged character. His affinity with her is his motivation for trying to help and why he feels that he can be the one to help her find her voice again. But he keeps breaking the rules and seems increasingly obsessed with his patient. Is he using this case as a distraction from difficulties in his private life or is there more going on?  As Theo learns more about Alicia and her life in the time leading to the murder, he finds things he never expected and begins to understand why she painted Alcestis and why she has remained silent all these years. Will this mean he can reach her? That once again she will speak and all will be unveiled.

From the opening chapters I was fully immersed in this book.  I flew through it, unable to put it down and thinking about it each moment I wasn’t reading.  The characters were all well written and I especially liked the fascinating enigma that was Alicia. I could never quite work out if she was a malevolent calculating killer or a tragic victim of an as-yet-unknown horror.  It was a well researched novel and I found the information about psychology and trauma fascinating. I had suspicions about two of the characters and thought they might be involved in Gabriel’s death, perhaps even framing her in some way. I was convinced I knew where the story was going and what would happen but I couldn’t have been more wrong….

The novel is ingeniously written as with one chapter, a paragraph and finally a short sentence, the writer mercilessly takes your breath away. He transforms this novel from a great book into a mind-blowing and sensational book with a twist you truly couldn’t have foreseen. THIS is the book I would call the crime debut of 2019.  What a magnificent and electrifying debut. Everyone will be talking about this book and that twist. Whatever genre you enjoy, you need to read this book.

Out February 7th 2019.

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