If you are looking for a crime/thriller fix that is just over 300 pages, then look no further than The Silent Patient.
Usually, before I pick up a book, I do some research on Goodreads. But for this one, I jumped right in because of rave reviews from my friend. As I was nearing the end of the book, I just had to pause and ask myself- Wow, this author is good. How come I’ve not read any of his other works? And I went to Goodreads, only to find that this is his first book. Not just that, this book is 2019’s Goodreads Choice Award Winner in the Mystery and Thriller category. And also a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Oh, and also set to be made into a movie!
The name of the author is Alex Michaelides.
Let me jump right into the plot now!
Alicia Berenson is a talented painter. She is now locked away in a secure forensic institution for the mentally challenged. Because she killed her husband in cold-blood by shooting him five times, straight in the face. What makes the entire gruesome ordeal fascinating is that she never utters a single word when she is arrested. All she does is to paints a self-portrait of herself titled Alcestis*. And then goes silent on the world. She doesn’t say why she killed him, or if she indeed did kill him.
There is so much intrigue surrounding the event, and everyone wants to have a go at deciphering Alicia, the reason behind her silence, and why she will not utter a single word. That’s where Theo Faber comes in. He is a criminal psychotherapist, and he gets assigned to the institution where Alicia is kept. Set on understanding her silence, Theo tries to find ways to communicate with her. With her always under the heavily drugged (for her own safety and that of the others), he finally narrows down on the best way to get her to talk – through her paintings.
As the doctor-patient duo starts to communicate silently, Alicia slowly begins to trust Theo and hands over her diary to him. Theo starts to piece together Alicia’s past from the diary entries. And he finally understands what happened on the dreadful night of her husband’s murder, and the actual reason behind her silence.
Personally, I felt the book to be slow. It began picking up some steam towards the end, though, especially the final 100 or so pages. The ending will just blow your mind! It sure did for me.
So do give it a read!
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to the movie!
* Alcestis is a Greek mythological heroine. She loved her husband, Admetus dearly. But he betrays her. He selfishly asks Alcestis to die in his place. And she does. But she is soon returned to Admetus from her death. And Alcestis mysteriously remains mute after she comes back.