The Silent Patient

Name:                               The Silent Patient

Author:                              Alex Michaelides

Rating:                              4

General Rating:      This is totally my type of book, what I call an in-your-head novel. I dislike books with long, drawn-out descriptions. This story is to the point. Has much dialogue. And is an easy read while hiding a complicated plot.

Skip factor:     0% This is one of those few books where I did not skip a word.

Who should read:         People who do not like descriptions of settings, people’s looks, or places. This is an in-the-head book. The plot consumes you.

Summary:          No spoilers. This is the story of a psychotherapist who believes his wife is cheating on him. He begins a new job and immediately throws himself into helping a single client whose case he is familiar with. So not to spoil it, I’ll say there is a murder and throughout the entire book, you will ask yourself who really killed the person? Is it this character? Or this one? Who’s crazy?

Characters:        Despite the depth Michaelides creates for each character, you do not have to go back and reread sections to clarify traits. This varies from most thrillers I’ve read where I am saying What? And then thumbing back through pages or zipping through screen after screen to find what I am remembering that has confused me. I’m not sure how the author did this, but I always felt the next clue would be in a future chapter, never in a past one.

Having said that, this is another book where I did not feel connected to any character. Another novel where I was concentrating so greatly on the plot, the character’s personalities were clues only. I never asked myself if I liked any of them until I had nearly finished the novel. The way this author writes is that good.

Here are the characters I remember:

Alicia – If I came close to liking a character, it was Alicia, the accused murderess. I rode the roller coaster of she-did-it-she-didn’t up and down and throughout. The element of surprise from this, the silent patient, character intrigued me. She kept me guessing.

Theo– The psychotherapist. This is to the author’s credit: I was about three-fourths through the book before I realized I had no attachment to him. I asked myself why. He’s believable as a psychotherapist. Think of how you read a document written by a doctor or how you listen to a doctor give a diagnosis. You listen to their words. You’re hanging onto their diagnosis, suggestions, or whatever they are relaying. Their words are important, not them. It never occurs to you that this is a person with a life, family. Theo was that believable. Throughout most of the book, I thought only of what he was saying. Additionally, he was believable. I imagine the author did much research on psychotherapy. I actually expected him to have a psychology background.

Minor characters – People came in out. Kathy, Theo’s wife; Yuri, a co-worker; Max, the adopted brother of the victim entered and exited scenes perfectly. While I neither liked nor disliked them, I studied everyone. Each character held a connection to the storyline. They were necessary.

Storyline:            There are slow parts in the middle like every book. I’ve heard some reader’s criticisms, and a few times, I thought I might end up rating this a 3 or 3.5 at best. That feeling did not last long. In all, I found the story magnificently plotted and the lives intricately pieced together. This is my type of puzzle. Towards the end, I couldn’t put down.

Writing:              Not sure how to evaluate the writing. Again, this is my style. I hate long paragraphs that describe settings. I am more a “people” person, always wondering what is going on inside someone’s head. If you are the sort who remembers what someone was wearing, their eye color, or the smell of their perfume, you may not like this as much as I did. If you are like me, always asking What did they mean by that statement? Why was this character introduced? I believe you’ll enjoy this one immensely.

And if you like strong dialogue? You’ll love. Nature lovers, interior decorators, people who like physical detail? Not as much.

Read this author again? OMG absolutely.

Read on!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubor LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Meet Another GREAT Erie Book Club.

Can a book club make you a better person?

Reading sneaks you inside someone else’s head. Your mind inches up next to theirs. Your stomach churns as their life rolls up and down and squeals around the curves. You experience their pain, realize their wants and needs. You grow to like some characters and detest others, but always, some emotion arises out of your soul when you read a book. Even indifference inspires you. (I labor over why I couldn’t put down Gone Girl and loved The Secret History when I felt so—bleh—about the characters!)

Can a book club make you a better person, though? I say yes. Book clubs introduce you to stories and lives you might never know. Stories, which inspire empathy in you.

But don’t take my word for it. Google “can reading make you empathetic” and peruse the articles.  Psychology Today’s article at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201501/how-reading-can-change-you-in-major-way explains ways in which reading affects us.

I loved this article because it suggests reading makes us more open and empathetic, and I believe empathy softens human nature. There’s nothing better in life than sitting down with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and discussing a good book or life issues with empathetic people.

MJ logo  The Cen“Я”Us Book Club

I met some of these people—the kind I like—on a recent night out with an Erie book club. I shared coffee with The Cen“Я”Us Book Club, comprised of five women who were so much fun that I overstayed my welcome. Four out of five of this all-female book club worked for the Census together in 2015. (Hence the clever name.) When their job was done, they’d had so much fun together they wanted to remain friends.

What better way than sharing food, books, and laughter once a month?

The women, overachievers, read two of my novels for their January club meeting and asked me to attend their January meeting. We discussed the books a bit, but more importantly, we laughed our way through the entire evening talking life, people, and comradery. I had a blast. They were fun-loving, positive, and witty book addicts.  I’m thinking of writing another book just so I can go back!

Marijane Dillon book club
Top Row: Kim Trott, Maureen Bonny LoPresto Bottom Row: Kate Kunkel, Marijane “Mj” Dillon, Pam Zimmer

Thank you to Marijane, Kim, Pam, Kate, and Maureen for reminding me readers are the most compassionate, passionate, fantastic people in the world!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon. And watch for her soon to be released novel, Friends Who Move Couches.