The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books on February 5th, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
“As you will see, it’s an incredible story—of that there is no doubt. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.”
Does anyone else love reading thrillers and mysteries during the summer? I’m trying to get through a ton of them on my TBR this season. And this was at the top of that list because of all the incredible things I’d heard online.
The Silent Patient follows Alicia Berenson, a famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer. She seemingly lives the perfect life. That is until one evening her husband Gabriel comes home and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never utters another word.
The murder is sensationalized in the press and Alicia’s refusal to talk captures the imagination of the public. She’s thrust into notoriety, the price of her art skyrockets, and she remains the silent patient hidden away in a mental health institution.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who decides that he wants to unravel the mystery and finally coax out the truth from Alicia. But will the search for truth consume him?
Oof. My first thriller of the season and it’s a complete and utter dud. I’m really disappointed with The Silent Patient. I love a good twist. I love when it comes out of nowhere because you weren’t paying attention to the clues the author left. I love when a twist makes me question everything I’ve just read. There’s nothing like when a twist makes my jaw drop and a loud gasp comes from my mouth.
Unfortunately, some authors in this genre write to create one great twist with nothing else of substance. And a good book can’t survive on just that. I didn’t find the twist very interesting and it was very obvious to me in the beginning where this was going.
Twists are made all the more delicious when you have fascinating characters, a gripping story, and engaging writing to go along with it. But The Silent Patient had none of that.
I found the descriptions of the characters to be very off-putting. Why are all the men “handsome” or “good-looking” while the women are “crazy” and “unattractive” or “ditzy.” It seemed like the women had these “undesirable” qualities. And Alicia had all of them, but the men couldn’t stop obsessing over her. This made the writing feel unrealistic and unimaginative. That line of thinking is so reductive.
Not a single character had one redeemable quality. And that’s fine — but characters needs to be complex for this choice to land with readers. I didn’t buy Theo’s story and I only nominally believed in Alicia’s backstory.
Having said all that, I can clearly see why people have been raving about this book. It’s a slow burn. A really, really, slow burn. It’s like deciding to spend your time watching a dying fire. But the twist is worth the wait, if you don’t figure it out beforehand.
But do I think there are better mystery/thrillers out there? 100 percent! You can start by reading The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. But if you like slow burn reads with an explosive ending, this book is for you.