The Stuff of Mystery and Suspense
Meera Rajagopalan
THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides Orion Books, 2019, 341 pp., 399.00
May 2020, volume 44, No 5

Have I died and gone to Heaven,’ I wondered. ‘I have been asked to review a detective novel my most favourite reading nowadays!’ And what a novel at that! The first book published by the author, it tells a gripping story in the manner of …no, no spoiler alert! The Silent Patient is the story of Theo Faber, a forensic psychotherapist, and Alicia Berenson, a gifted artist. These are the two main protagonists. Many other characters are present, and all of them have a role to play. Nothing superfluous. Alicia, a devoted wife shoots her husband Gabriel dead without any rhyme or reason and refuses to talk from then on. Intriguing to say the least. The only clue to the mystery is her painting after she has killed herhusband signed ALCESTIS. Alcestis is the tragic Greek heroine, who after a traumatic event, remains silent for the rest of her life. Now, what is the connection between an ancient Greek heroine and a modern-day artist? This is what Theo has to find out.

Helping /hindering Theo, in the main, are the staff/inmates of The Grove, the highend nursing home where Alicia is a patient and Theo a doctor. There is Dr Diomedes, the director; the mysterious, dubious, Dr West; Dr Indira; Yuri the attendant among others and many inmates, in various degrees of mental illness. Outside the nursing home the significant dramatis personae include Theo’s wife Kathy, Gabriel’s brother Max, and Alicia’s agent, Jean Felix. At the centre, like a spider in a web is the silent brooding figure of Alicia, casting an ominous spell all around. Each of these characters has a significant part to play. Crisscrossing between characters, going around and about them, delving into the past, predicting the future, spinning a tangled web of deception…the author tells a gripping tale of love, infidelity, ambition, childhood trauma, betrayal, revenge almost the entire gamut of human failings.

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