The cover of The Silent PatientFor February’s Writer’s Book Club, I review The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, narrated by Jack Hawkins and Louise Brealey. In this bestseller, a criminal psychiatrist attempts to treat a woman who murders her husband and then never speaks.

I bought the audio version of this book when it first came out, and I couldn’t get into it. The book is told from the point of view of the psychiatrist who I didn’t like. But my daughter talked me into giving it another try, and I’m so glad I did.


What I like about The Silent Patient

Famous painter Alicia Berenson ties her husband to a living room chair and shoots him five times in the face. Police find her with her wrists slit and the gun, with her fingerprints all over it, at her feet. She refuses to talk during the trial and for years after that while living in a psychiatric hospital.

Criminal psychiatrist Theo Faber does everything he can to ensure he’s the one to treat Alicia. This overstepping of professional ethical boundaries is why I stopped listening to the book the first time. I found it creepy. I powered through it this time and became caught up in Theo’s obsession with getting Alicia to talk. What explanation could she possibly have for murdering her husband, whom she dearly loved?

Without giving too much away, I was in awe of the way Michaelides wove the timeline of this story together. I also appreciated the subtle unreliability of the characters.


Issues I had with the book

Theo’s questionable ethics almost led me to not listen to this book, and that would have been a shame. I also kept picturing an early 1900s setting and had to remind myself that the book takes place in current times. Some more modern references might have helped. Finally, (slight spoiler) at the end of the book, Alicia hides her journal from Theo. The hiding place was too obvious.


I wanted more (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)

There is talk of making The Silent Patient into a movie and I can’t wait to watch it. It will be interesting to see how they handle Theo’s interiority and weave the timeline.


How this has affected my writing

I had tried making Paul an unreliable narrator in The Devil Particle, but couldn’t manage it. Eventually, his story changed so much that having him be unreliable wouldn’t have made sense. But I would like to write a book from an unreliable character’s point of view. With that in mind, I’ll read the paperback version of The Silent Patient and take copious notes. It’ll be an enjoyable textbook to study.


The Silent Patient gets 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 for well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot.



Next month’s Writer’s Book Club

Cover of Dark Matter

Cover of The HaciendaFor March, I’m reviewing both Isabel Canas’s Mexican gothic horror novel The Hacienda and Blake Crouch’s thriller science fiction story Dark Matter.

I had a lot of issues with both books, but while I couldn’t look past those issues in The Hacienda, I could in Dark Matter and I’ll discuss why.





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“Five stars for the high-concept plot alone. Very inventive and thought-provoking. What if all the evil in the world could be captured and isolated into an “outstanding” human who would keep it suppressed—seemingly forever?” – Chris Norbury, award-winning author of the Matt Lanier mystery-thriller series.






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