The Silent Patient is the debut novel from Alex Michaelides, previously known for writing screenplays. It comes garlanded with praise from David Baldacci, Lee Child and A.J. Finn, who calls it “the perfect thriller.” In light of recent revelations, some may be inclined to take Finn’s endorsement with a pinch of salt. But in this case, there’s not a word of a lie.
The silent patient is Alicia Berenson, who’s devoted to her husband Gabriel and keeps a secret diary as an outlet for her anxiety and to convince him that she isn’t on the verge of a breakdown. Then one night she shoots him five times and stops speaking.
Enter forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber, who takes a keen interest in Alicia’s case and is convinced he can get through to her where others have failed. But his task proves extremely difficult, with many obstacles in his way.
As the truth is slowly revealed, we learn more about Alicia’s back story and Theo’s troubled marriage. And the author succeeds in pulling off one of the boldest and least expected twists I’ve read in a long time. It’s a master stroke in a book that grips from the start and never lets up. Highly recommended.