Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Review
A Dark, Compelling Psychological Thriller with a Mind-Blowing Twist.
It’s been a while since I have read a truly five-star book; one that gets inside my head and I can’t stop talking about to anyone who will listen. I’ve read some great books already this year but nothing that has absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Until now. “The Silent Patient” sucked me in and spat me out.
I simply couldn’t put this dark, compelling psychological thriller down and the unexpected ending blew me away.
Alicia Berenson is a famous artist and her husband, Gabriel, is a much sought-after fashion photographer. To outside observers, she appears to have the perfect life.
Then, one evening when Gabriel arrives home late from work, Alicia ties him to a chair and shoots him several times in the face, seemingly without any provocation or motive. The investigation into the murder is complicated by Alicia’s silence. From the moment that she killed her husband, she never spoke another word.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychologist who is so obsessed with the Berenson case that he leaves his secure job at Broadmoor high-security hospital to take up a position at The Grove, the secure forensic unit in north London where Alicia is being treated. He hopes to succeed where other psychologists have failed and break Alicia’s silence.
Theo goes way beyond the normal boundaries of a psychologist’s relationship with a patient, so determined is he to get to the truth behind the story. He visits Alicia’s friends and relatives to try to build a picture of her life before the murder and many fairly unpleasant characters appear.
Theo and Alicia are both complex characters with troubled childhoods and abusive, neglectful parents in common. The descriptions of their early experiences are hard to read but go some way to explaining the flawed characters that they have become.
As I got deeper into the book, I began to suspect that there was much more to Alicia’s story that it seemed at first and I became suspicious of every character. As Theo’s investigation progressed, I feared for his safety. What if he got too close to the truth and unwittingly put himself in danger? I found myself becoming more and more tense as the book went on and simply could not put it down.
I loved the way that Alicia’s story mirrors the tale of Alcestis, the heroine of a Greek tragedy by Euripides. It’s very cleverly woven into the book to give the reader clues without giving too much away.
Alex Michaelides is a very skilled writer indeed. I spent hours thinking about the book but I didn’t for one second see the absolutely breathtaking twist coming. I finished the book in a state of shock.
Published by: Orion
(Many thanks to Orion and Tracy Fenton for inviting us to take part in this blog tour.)