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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Thriller

The Silent Patient

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Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to The Silent Patient!

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by Alex Michaelides

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Quick take

A therapist unravels the mind of a shattered woman ... who may be a murderer (or not).

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological

    Psychological

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy

    Creepy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit

    Whodunit

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy

    Buzzy

Synopsis

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....

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Why I love it

Since Gone Girl conquered the globe in 2012, bookstore shelves have creaked beneath the weight of countless psychological thrillers. Another 44 were published in the past eight seconds alone—and precious few of these novels actually qualify as psychological suspense. More often than not, they focus on an imperiled protagonist—usually a young woman—whose psychology is neither nuanced nor particularly … well, particular. We might rattle around in the heroine’s head, but absent idiosyncrasies, dimension, or even personality, it’s like touring an empty museum.

Readers, we face a literary epidemic. But Alex Michaelides is here to deliver the cure. The Silent Patient is an eerie, bona fide psychological thriller starring Theo Faber, a psychotherapist who by trade dwells within the inner lives of his charges—one of whom refuses to speak. As Theo attempts to break through to his silent patient—a woman convicted of murdering her husband—a dark story unfolds that is as shocking as it is expertly crafted.

The characters in this novel crackle with complexity—with genuine psychology—and a walk through their minds feels as risky and exhilarating as crossing a minefield. (I would here like to coin the term "mind-field.") This phenomenal interior novel defibrillates the ailing body of the psychological thriller genre. I’m delighted to invite readers into the world of The Silent Patient. Just don’t get too comfortable.

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