I really try to write reviews shortly after I read the book. If I don’t, books often tend to quickly fall to the bottom of my memory well. I can tell you whether I liked a book or not, but that’s about it. I may have waited too long on this one, but here goes.
Psychotherapist, Theo Faber, is just starting a new job at an institution for the criminally insane. From the beginning of the novel, he is a little fanboy about a particular patient there, Alicia Berenson, who was convicted of murdering her husband six years ago. Alicia, who was found with her dead husband’s body, has not uttered a word since. Good old Theo seems a little overly confident that he is the man for the job and elbows his way into her treatment plan.
Told from the perspective of both Theo and Alicia (primarily from her journal entries), the mystery weaves around the men in Alicia’s life: her husband, a former co-worker and her brother in-law. Did Alicia really kill her husband? The “whodunnit” or “who could have dunnit” is also interspersed with Theo’s own domestic issues with his wife.
This was my book club’s pick for April and we discussed it what seems like 10 years ago. I remember that I mostly liked it but it was a little plot hole-y and slightly problematic. I will say that I easily tire of unreliable narrators and the two narrators here were both obviously unreliable. I also think that it is one of those novels where I tend to spend way too much time trying to figure out what’s going on, who is lying, and “who could have dunnit” to really sit with the story. Is that how mysteries like this are supposed to be read? I don’t know. I think perseverating over the mystery was a consequence of a host of extremely unlikable characters. With no one to root for, the mystery was what kept the story going for me.
It’s not a bad book and I’m sure it will make a great movie. However, while it is in the same wheelhouse as Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, it wasn’t quite as good of a read.