The Silent Patient Review
This debut thriller from British screenwriter Alex Michaelides is gripping, and is soon to be adapted
into a film. The narrator, Theo Faber, is a psychotherapist who has escaped an abusive childhood
to try to help others by working with inmates in prisons. He’s long been fascinated with the case
of Alicia Berenson, who was convicted of murdering her husband six years earlier. Alicia was an
artist, and her husband Gabriel was a photographer, and they seemed to have a good marriage.
But Alicia was found one night with Gabriel’s body tied to a chair, and a gunshot wound in his
Alicia was convicted of the murder and has since been confined to The Grove, a secure prison, where she has maintained her silence.
Since that day, Alicia has not said a word, and has neither confirmed her guilt or protested her
innocence. Her only communication has been in the form of a disturbing painting, named Alcestis,
a reference to a Greek tragedy by Euripides, whose title character was also struck dumb. Due to
the high profile murder case, the painting was extremely popular when it was exhibited at an art
gallery in the days following Gabriel’s death. Alicia was convicted of the murder and has since been
confined to The Grove, a secure prison, where she has maintained her silence. It’s there that Theo
manages to get a job as a psychotherapist, giving him the chance to try and treat and Alicia. Can
he get her to talk, and maybe reveal her guilt and her motivations behind her husband’s murder?
Or perhaps Alicia was innocent of the crime all along? Theo begins to make his own investigations,
talking to Alicia’s friends and relations, as well as the other staff and patients at The Grove.
As we follow the story of Theo and Alicia, we also hear about Theo’s private life – his
determination to find a settled life for himself after his troubled upbringing, and his relationship
with his wife. With plenty of references to Greek literature, this bridges the gap between a
traditional Agatha Christie style whodunit and the more modern genre of domestic noir. Secrets
and lies in both Alicia and Theo’s life slowly come to the fore, and there are some unexpected
twists along the way.
Written by Ruth, Marketing.