Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Theo, a psychiatrist who works with the criminally insane, applies for a job at a different hospital, in order to work with the infamous Alicia Berenson, a famous artist who shot her husband, a famous fashion photographer, in the face and never spoke a word afterward. Theo is convinced, he can get through to her. yes, others have tried, but he just knows he can make the inroads. Along the way, somewhat unethically, he contacts her family and friends to find out more about her, to try to understand her as a person and what lead her to this moment.

This was a fun thriller that I read in less than 48 hours. I know books with big twists are getting harder and harder to pull off, but this one I didn't even see coming (I honestly didn't know if it even had a twist or if it was a more straightforward old-school kind of thriller). Just a couple of pages before the reveal I suddenly was clued in, suddenly small things I'd overlooked loomed before me, and suddenly I was thinking, "Wait, could it be.... no, that can't be!" And I was still surprised. Up to that point, the book has tension but it doesn't have fake fear throughout. It's not trying too hard like some I've read. The read felt effortless, and as someone married to a social worker, the little details of the therapy were very accurate (including Theo getting "supervision" from a colleague which means something different in this field--getting advice on a client's situation--than it does to us laypeople who aren't counselors.)

The scenes at the hospital feel like an updated One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest from the other side of the desk. Theo's backstory pulls you in as well. And slowly, the layers of the onion are peeled. Until the heart of the story is revealed.

This book is published by Celadon, a brand-new publisher that is part of Macmillan, my employer.

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