Staff Recommends: The Silent Patient

Staff Recommends: The Silent Patient

Mason Warren is the Public Relations Coordinator at the Shelby County Public Library. He has worked at the Library since 2016 and is a graduate of Martha Layne Collins High School (2018) and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Louisville. Mason serves on the Board of Directors at the Shelby County Community Theatre and is the chair of the Marketing Committee and a member of the Artistic Committee. In his spare time, Mason enjoys photography and spending time with his two dogs, Baxter and Molly.


What’s the book about?

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations ― a search for the truth that threatens to consume him.


Why Mason recommends it

I enjoy being challenged when reading. In other words, I don’t want to read the first fifty-or-so pages and be able to guess how the story resolves, and all too often, that’s what happens. This book, The Silent Patient, kept me guessing until the end. Described as a “… [a] mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy…” (Entertainment Weekly), there is plenty to make you want to read just a few more pages before bed.

Alicia, a famous painter, is now the titular silent patient in the Grove, a North London psychiatric facility on the verge of shutting down due to lack of funding. She is accused of murdering Gabriel, her husband, but has not spoken to anyone during the trial or after her conviction. Theo Faber, a psychotherapist, has an almost incessant fascination with Alicia and the case.

Alicia isn’t the only one that has a history, though. Theo, you learn, has an interesting and sad backstory that somehow elicits both sympathy and shock. And of course, they are surrounded by people, inside and outside of the Grove, with their own stories that provide both a colorful context and the occasional suspenseful moment.

Alicia’s silence about her accused crime, Theo’s interest in the case and his own background, and the other staff and residents of the Grove provides a fascinating and interconnected context to a story that doesn’t reveal the “full story” until the last few pages.

If you like to be kept guessing, I recommend you try out Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient.

The Silent Patient is available at SCPL. Click here to view on the catalog and place a hold.

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