“Superb… This edgy, intricately plotted psychological thriller establishes Michaelides as a major player in the field.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Alicia Berenson is a famous painter, married to Gabriel Berenson, a sought-after fashion photographer. One evening she shoots her husband in the face, attempts suicide (from which she was revived) and then stops speaking. No amount of coaxing and therapy can get her to speak.

Six years later, she’s housed in a secure psychiatric facility, the Grove, but she still hasn’t opened her mouth.

Alicia is the silent patient – and this is her story.

Theo Faber, a psychotherapist, has been interested in her case from day 1. He makes it his life goal to be able to reach out to her and treat her someday. When an opportunity presents itself as a vacancy at the Grove, he jumps to the challenge. He applies and is selected.

Once at the Grove, he requests for Alicia’s case and vows to unlock the secrets that she has harboured inside her for so long.

Told alternatively, between the now (from Theo’s perspective) and the then (as excerpts of Alicia’s diary entries, in the days leading up to the murder), this is a dark tale of insights into the human psyche.

Theo himself is struggling with his personal life and marriage, which intertwines with his efforts to get through to Alicia. But, what is Alicia? Is she really the villain or is she perhaps a mere victim? Theo finds himself advocating for Alicia and in the process finds himself over-identifying with her. Of course, its part of the therapeutic process, since a psychotherapist needs to be able to get deep into the emotions of the patient. At the crux of it all, is an ancient Greek tragedy which intertwines itself beautifully into the plot.

A horrendous murder, a woman held captive in the confines of her own mind, and a therapist determined to unlock her secrets – this debut suspense novel is not only well-written, well-paced and tightly-plotted, it is every bit deserving of the rave reviews it’s already receiving.

Every character has something to hide, and the question remains who is manipulating whom; and who is telling the truth?

The twist at the end is mind-blowing – and despite reading maximum books of this genre, I cannot say I saw it coming.

This is my best read of 2019, so far.

5/5 for me.

Please read this – now!

 

Reviewed by:

Ranjini Sen

Added 5th May 2019

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Ranjini Sen