Monday, June 17, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The Silent Patient

Update : 21 Oct 2022, 10:22 PM

This is the kind of book that makes you want to scream, "What the hell did I just read?" once you finish it. One of the most impressive works ever written in the suspenseful psychological thriller genre. This is the very first book that author Alex Michaelides has ever written and it was published in the year 2019, and it has already been an enormous success, ranking first place in the readers' choice poll on Goodreads.

It's impossible to fathom the twists and chills it provides the readers of the book. Even if you are not a fan of psychological thrillers, I still think you should read it because it is really good. I am glad that I gave it a try. 

The book talks about a brutal killing, a lady locked inside her own head, and a therapist on a mission to free her. It's almost as if what you're reading is an illusion and not what really happened. And when they finally learn the truth, readers will be rocked to their very cores.

The author emphasises the significance of love throughout the story by having the main characters all end up in happy marriages. Both Theo and Kathy were head over heels in love with one other, while Alicia was head over heels for Gabriel. Sadly, the deception of their spouses places a risk to this love that they share.

The protagonist is a male psychotherapist named Theo Faber. He's quite interested in his patient, Alicia Berenson, currently on trial for the multiple-shot slaying of her husband in the face. For some reason, she didn't want to go to the police about what happened that day, and she didn't talk about it for another six years until Theo came into her life. She was a painter who seemed to have it all together until tragedy struck. Michaelides creates a figure whose outside beauty and willingness to create art in response to Theo's prodding belie a dark and troubled interior life.

Theo, the therapist, is brought to life for readers. It is Theo's story that the reader is most invested in as he starts his new job at the Grove, the secure mental hospital where Alicia is being treated. Soon he starts his sessions with Alicia, trying to break through her silence; and learns to deal with the bureaucracy of the Grove and his coworkers.

It's fascinating and puzzling that Theo persisted with therapy for Alicia after other therapists had given up on her due to her prolonged silence. Theo thinks he can keep a secret from his patient, but Alicia has already deduced the truth. They are both acting in disguise. But they couldn't keep up the charade for long since they needed to know one other's true identities.

The book is unique because it combines present-day narrative with flashbacks to earlier events. The crossroads of time is where we get the unvarnished truth about what has been going on for so long. It pinpoints the true culprit in the murder case and shows who the defaulter was.

Once the truth is known to the entire world, however, only one of them will be able to survive. Theo had an exaggerated sense of assurance that he would not be discovered, but he was unaware that Alicia had preserved one piece of proof of his identity and concealed it in a location that he would not be able to locate.

I rated it five stars and think that everyone should read it. Alex has done an excellent job of providing the readers with an exciting roller coaster trip full of unexpected turns.

Tanzila Zamil Khan is a faculty member at Scholastica. 

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