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The Silent Patient

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The Silent Patient

February 2019

I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides. When I read an early copy over the summer, I found it to be a completely compelling and propulsive read. Alicia Berenson, an artist, has been convicted of brutally killing her husband, a well-renowned fashion photographer, by shooting him five times in the face. She is now living at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. After the night of the shooting, she has not spoken a word. Why Alicia is not talking is perplexing. What is she hiding?

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who is determined to work with Alice. He circles her like she is prey, trying to draw her in to tell her side of the story. While I read the book in print, I listened to an interview at the end of the audiobook where Alex talks about the Greek myth by Euripides that inspired him as he was writing this story. He grew up on Cyprus, and reading the myths there was something infused into the culture. In Alcestis, a woman returns from death and never speaks again. Early seeds of THE SILENT PATIENT came from there.

Alex also worked in a secure psychiatric unit for two years before becoming a screenwriter. His knowledge of the world inside an institution feels authentic. His screenwriting background gave him the chops to pace THE SILENT PATIENT and keep the suspense up. Think short, brisk chapters that beg for one more. And the ending was satisfying and completely worked for me.

It’s a page-turning thriller with a surprise ending. I wanted to see what Alex will be working on next and have found this: “My next book also has a lot of Greek tragedy in it. It’s about a series of murders at a Cambridge college. It’s a little Grand Guignol, a little gruesome. There’s lots of that in Greek tragedy. I’ve been doing research about all the horrible things that went on. It’s fun exploring that.”

The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides