The silent patient by alex michaelides

I reached for the phone. I called Max Berenson at his office, using the contact number listed in Alicia’s file. It rang several times before it was answered. 

“The offices of Elliot, Barrow, and Berenson,” said a receptionist with a bad cold. 

“Mr. Berenson, please.” 

“May I ask who is calling?” 

“My name is Theo Faber. I’m a psychotherapist at the Grove. I was wondering if it might be possible to have a word with Mr. Berenson about his sister-in-law.” 

There was a slight pause before she responded. “Oh. I see. Well, Mr. Berenson is out of the office for the rest of the week. He’s in Edinburgh visiting a client. If you leave your number, I’ll have him call you on his return.” 

I gave her my number and hung up. 

I dialed the next number in the file—Alicia’s aunt, Lydia Rose. 

It was answered on the first ring. An elderly woman’s voice sounded breathless and rather annoyed. “Yes? What is it?” 

“Is that Mrs. Rose?” 

“Who are you?” 

“I’m calling regarding your niece, Alicia Berenson. I’m a psychotherapist working at the—” 

“Fuck off.” She hung up. 

I frowned to myself. 

Not a good start.


I DESPERATELY NEEDED A CIGARETTE. As I left the Grove, I looked for them in my coat pockets, but they weren’t there. 

“Looking for something?” 

I turned around. Yuri was standing right behind me. I hadn’t heard him and I was a little startled to find him so close. 

“I found them in the nurses’ station.” He grinned, handing me my pack of cigarettes. “Must have fallen out of your pocket.” 

“Thanks.” I took them and lit one. I offered him the packet. 

Yuri shook his head. “I don’t smoke. Not cigarettes, anyway.” He laughed. “You look like you need a drink. Come on, I’ll buy you a pint.” 

I hesitated. My instinct was to refuse—I had never been one for socializing with work colleagues. And I doubted Yuri and I had much in common. But he probably knew Alicia better than anyone else at the Grove—and his insights might prove useful. 

“Sure,” I said. “Why not?” 

We went to a pub near the station, the Slaughtered Lamb. Dark and dingy, it had seen better days; so had the old men dozing over their half-finished pints. Yuri got us a couple of beers, and we sat at a table at the back. 

Yuri took a long swig of beer and wiped his mouth. “Well? Tell me about Alicia.” 


“How did you find her?” 

“I’m not sure I did find her.”

Yuri gave me a quizzical look, then smiled. “She doesn’t want to be found? Yeah, it’s true. She’s hiding.” 

“You’re close to her. I can see that.” 

“I take special care of her. No one knows her like I do, not even Professor Diomedes.” 

His voice had a boastful note. It annoyed me for some reason—I wondered how well he really knew her, or if he was just bragging. 

“What do you make of her silence? What do you think it means?” 

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