Alicia Berenson has been silent ever since she was arrested for a violently murdering her husband. She was silent during her arrest. She was silent during her trial. She was silent during her stint at a mental health facility. Theo Fabar, a psychotherapist struggling in his own life, thinks he can help. Theo attempts the impossible: to uncover Alicia’s story and start her on the path to healing all the while she remains silent. The result of his efforts is the unraveling of a mystery in a way that will irrevocably change both of their lives.
First let’s talk about the ending. No spoilers, but it’s hard to review a mystery novel with discussing how it all comes together. My issue with many mystery novels or thrillers is that the endings inevitably fall in one of three categories: an entirely obvious ending that is made clear early enough in the novel that the story afterwards is unnecessary, an ending that is so out of left field and unrelated to the story as it was presented that it makes the entire story unnecessary, or an ending that brings all the pieces of the story together in a way that is surprising but still honors the story that has been told. Too often, I find myself reading mysteries whose ending fall in one of the first two categories. Michaeldes manages to squarely plant The Silent Patient in the final category. Once the ending was revealed, it all made sense. It was all so obvious! (But only after the reveal. I had my suspicions but nothing concrete). All of the vignettes into the characters lives that I thought served solely as character development blossomed into clues and puzzle pieces of the mystery.
The manner in which Michaelides crafts The Silent Patient should also be applauded. He deftly weaves together multiple timelines into the story. The jumps are never jarring nor distracting from what is occuring in either timeline. Michaelides also manages to use diary entries, emails, and narrated recollections altogether in way that is entirely cohesive.