Book Review: The Silent Patient, a psychological thriller

“An unforgettable—and Hollywood-bound—new thriller… A mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy.”

Entertainment Weekly

Shot her husband in the head 5 times. Repeatedly. No remorse exhibited later, whatsoever. The Silent Patient is the New York Times and Sunday Times #1 bestseller, a psychological-thriller novel that revolves around the story of a famous painter ‘Alicia Berenson’ who is married to the most eligible bachelor, Gabriel. A seemingly perfect marriage ended in a horrific evening. Enters the second main character, ‘Theo Faber’, a psychotherapist who is obsessed with solving the bizarre mystery which Alicia holds within. Will it be a crime of passion, revenge, or vengeance? Read this marvellous piece to find out! 

This suspenseful best-seller will have you hooked from the first page as you read back and forth from multiple timelines, building up to the plot-breaker. Was I expecting the end? Absolutely NOT! But was I impressed? that would be a solid YES.  If you are an avid reader of mystery, psychology-related novels like me, then this is the book for you.

Alex, in his debut novel, has completely outdone himself as a wordsmith by showcasing excellent use of vocabulary, tone, and overall setting up the atmosphere for a wonderful read. The intricate way with which he juggles through the different timelines of both characters whilst maintaining the secrecy of the identities is truly amazing. 

It is crucial to acknowledge the fact that Alex, despite the novel including various psychological references, has opted to use clear and understandable language. His writing does not include various difficult jargons that take half your time googling the meaning. Furthermore, his ability to keep the suspense going on till the end is truly astonishing that even if the reader expects to have dissected the plot, let me assure you, this will not be the case! After ending this novel, you will most definitely be wanting more of Alex’s content.

It would be a lie if I stated that I came even a nickel close to uncovering the final twist because the storyline has the reader utterly confused as to which character should one be pointing fingers at? On one hand, there is Barbie (Alicia’s neighbour) who was the first to report the crime who spent her time nagging about a stranger peeking through the windows. Was the stranger Gabriel’s brother Max who had an ulterior motive, must he be related to the case? Or was it Jean-Felix (Alicia’s former boss) and may I add former-jealous boss, who finally sought the last resort?

Everyone has a motive, but have they actually committed the crime? Was it really Alicia, the ‘ever devoted wife’, who laid the final blow? The plot twists will have your insides curling up with curiosity as you dive further and deeper into the story. Alex has done a marvelous job in bringing such a story to his readers which uplifts the bar for many writers out there, especially in the field of a murder mystery.    

A very unique reference to Greek Mythology has been mentioned in ‘The Silent Patient’, which coincides with the story of Alicia and her childhood. Alex mentioned in an interview that growing up in Cyprus with a Greek father provided him an immense exposure to Greek mythology and history. Hence, this paved the way for inspiration from the story of ‘Alcestis’ who was a Greek princess that was sacrificed to save her husband but upon her resurrection, she never spoke a word.

Similar to the story of Alicia who resorted to absolute silence for several years after committing a heinous crime against her husband. Alicia too saw her husband as Admetus, adored him, and even placed him as a model for her paintings. So now the question remains, ‘why? What drove her to this insanity, or may I say who?

CRITICISM: (Do not proceed if avoiding spoilers)
As it comes with every great novel, there has to be criticism along with praises. Alex has inexplicably done an honorable job for his debut novel however there are key points to be noted here as well. The characters that he introduced into the story were somewhat mainstream as you may call it. A jealous lover who has all fingers pointed at him, however, of course, the protagonist cannot be as simple as that. Or a perfectly portrayed husband who deeply cares for his unstable wife but obviously he has a negative side to him.

Moreover, a lot of the readers could figure out the unspoken bond that Alicia and Theo were bound to have. All in all, the novel had some pretty straightforward plot lines that could be figured out way beyond the ending twist. When we read about Alicia’s past traumas in relation with her father that had a tremendous effect on her mental health; I, for one came to the conclusion that it will definitely have something to do with her present-day decisions.  

‘The silent patient’ is not a literary extract however it is great for those looking for a story that is packed with suspense, mystery and a major plot twist at the end! It is a light read that you can finish within a day or two and kudos to Alex for putting such effort and thought into his first-ever novel. Unlike many debuts, this one provided a different story and setup that readers would find massively interesting. 

Review Score

Barnes and Noble

Our Score

'The Silent Patient' is a must-read, psycho-thriller which lives up to the hype! Dive into the world of mystery and suspense with a commendable narration by Alex.

Fatima Maarij

An avid book reader possessing a keen interest for writing and creativity! Learning and growing each step a day.

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