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Format: Paperback (borrowed from family)
Content Warnings: Self-harm & suicide attempt, graphic violence, psychological trauma, references to stalking, cheating in long-term relationship
Theo has just started a new job at The Grove, a psychiatric unit for violent female criminals. Top of the list of new patients he must take on is Alicia. Alicia seemed to have it all – a flourishing career as an artist and a loving husband – until the night she shot him in the head. Since that fateful night, Alicia has refused to speak a word.
Disentangling Alicia’s past and the motives for her crime is not going to be easy – especially when The Grove is hiding secrets of its own.
First Page Impressions
I bought this book for my Dad for his birthday – then it got chosen as our book club pick of the month, so as soon as he unwrapped it I had to quickly borrow it back! However, this wasn’t the only reason why I read it so fast…
Straight away, I became absorbed in the psychological element of the mystery – the focus on motive rather than finding the actual criminal is a fresh angle that had me intrigued from the get-go.
Final Page Reflections
The clever structure of The Silent Patient gradually emerged as one of its stand-out forces. In addition to the crime, a personal side-plot focussed on Alicia’s therapist Theo ran alongside and I found this equally gripping.
This psychological thriller is unpredictable and genuinely surprising. I’m not very good at guessing plot twists – I’m more of an ‘along-for-the-ride’ type of reader and don’t invest a huge amount of effort in connecting the dots. My Dad, on the other hand, can usually see them coming a mile off, so the fact that he was foiled by The Silent Patient says a lot!
“We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”
Diversity and Representation
I found the unequal sexual power dynamics between Theo, the psychotherapist, and his patient Alicia troubling from the start, but as the novel progresses these disturbing issues are explored in a meaningful way.
- Memory and trauma
- Institutional therapy
- Relationships and loyalty
- Guilt and responsibility
Beyond the Book
The current popularity of psychological thrillers suggests that people enjoy this inward-focussed angle. However, I can’t help but wonder if the sensationalist portrayal of mental health in these books could do more harm than good?
- How do you read thrillers? Do you like to hunt out clues and predict ‘whodunnit’, or do you just enjoy the surprises that the journey brings?
- Rumours are there is a film of The Silent Patient in the making…who would you cast?
- One of the approaches Theo takes with Alicia’s therapy is to provide her with art materials. In your opinion, is the ability to express creativity a basic human right?
“…we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”
Read if: You want to be kept guessing by a stand-out thriller that deserves the hype.
Buy Now on Better World Books:
If you want more from the psychological thriller genre check out The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances.
Have you read The Silent Patient? What’s your favourite thriller at the moment? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!