REVIEWED BY SARAH PROCTOR
Is Alicia hiding behind her silence, or is there more to this crime?
Alicia Berenson has a fragile, artistic soul with hinted-at troubled depths, and she loves her husband deeply. This much is clear from the opening extract of her diary.
This character snapshot makes it entirely believable that following a cataclysmic event, she withdraws into herself, refuses to speak another word, and is sent to a secure mental unit. It’s not so easy to believe that the event is Alicia’s murder of her husband Gabriel, shooting him five times at point blank range.
A forensic psychologist becomes obsessed with the case
Theo Faber is a forensic psychologist. His childhood was blighted by a cruel and controlling father which has left him highly empathetic, good at tuning in to his clients’ moods, but still prone to self-doubt and to sometimes indulging an old cannabis habit.
It’s entirely plausible that sensitive Theo should become obsessed with Alicia’s case… so much so that he engineers a change of job to enable him to attempt to treat her.
The narrative tick-tocks between Alicia’s diary, written during the preceding sweltering summer, and Theo’s account, beginning in a bitterly cold January in this perceptively observed thriller. Replacing the blunt instruments of over-medication and uninspired group art therapy with a reduced dose, oils and canvas, Theo certainly succeeds in drawing a reaction from Alicia. But speech? That’s another matter.
In an attempt to cast light on her childhood and character, Theo defies the rules to approach people in Alicia’s past – her cousin, unhinged aunt, pushy alcoholic neighbour, and her broodingly aggressive lawyer brother-in-law. We sense he is playing a dangerous game – but just how dangerous remains to be seen.
And then Alicia offers him her diary…
With its deceptively conversational tone and superbly drawn characters, this book draws you in and closes its pages behind you. Enjoy a shiver as you explore its dark corners and multiple twists – before it’s made into a film and set in celluloid forever.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is published by Orion in hardback, RRP £12.99, and available from Amazon.
You may also like: