The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient is one of those books I have seen floating around everywhere and have had sitting on my shelf for a good while. I finally picked it up, and dived right in having read pretty much no reviews or blurbs about it. So as always going in blind is a good idea with any kind of mystery and if that’s your thing, come back here after you’ve read it!

“We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”

So in The Silent Patient we follow a psychiatrist who gets the opportunity to work with a famous mental health patient, a woman who killed her husband and then has not spoken a word since. She has been charged with the murder but also declared mentally unstable and is living out her life in a mental hospital rather than prison. Our story kicks off when the Psychiatrist takes a new job at the place she is kept and works to become the doctor for the infamous silent patient he has wanted to treat ever since her crime.

So we spend our time with our doctor as he both tries to help his patient, but also unravel the mystery, what happened that night and why! There are almost more questions than answers for the majority of the novel and we as we go through we get deeper and deeper into this web of people, motivations, mental health, and emotional ties that knot and knot before they unravel.

“Choosing a lover is a lot like choosing a therapist. We need to ask ourselves, is this someone who will be honest with me, listen to criticism, admit making mistakes, and not promise the impossible?”

This one sits well in it’s medical mystery/psychological thriller genre and although it includes effectively solving a crime, it’s not a typical whodunnit style novel but rather and exploration into characters, motivation, emotions and actions to get to the truth. Again adhering to the genre we have a multitude of neither inherently good or bad characters, but rather a set of people living on a morally grey scale of right and wrong making the novel even muddier, but also making it hard to root for someone.

I enjoyed the plot for the most part, but I think upon completion I realised it was the premise that really had me interested. Despite this strong premise that had me pretty hooked, it was the middle that I found both slow, and also filled with cliche style red herrings that didn’t feel unique like the premise did. So it was a weird mix, a really cool concept that fell prey to your pretty classic multitude of twists a turns that gave me a bit of whiplash. It had some nice tie ins to mythology and whilst that was an interesting part of the novel it also felt a bit forced at times.

“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.”

There were some twists I really enjoyed but I think overall I would have liked less of these going on, and have had them be more realised and three dimensional rather than “insert shady creepy character here” type elements.

So giving this one a middle of the road rating, certainly interesting and not hard to get through but really didn’t capitalise on a premise that was completely unique to me instead taking it from something I’d never read to something that felt like an amalgamation of the physiological thriller genre.

“Sometimes it takes courage, you know, and a long time, to be honest.”

I read this for my Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt “a medical thriller”. You can check out my progress here.

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