Title: The Patient
Author: Jasper DeWitt
Published: July 8th 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
The Silent Patient by way of Stephen King: Parker, a young, overconfident psychiatrist new to his job at a mental asylum, miscalculates catastrophically when he undertakes curing a mysterious and profoundly dangerous patient.
In a series of online posts, Parker H., an ambitious young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England and his attempt to cure the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case.
Originally admitted to the hospital as a child, the man has no known diagnosis. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.
Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But things quickly spiral out of control …
‘And just like that, my need to cure Joe became personal.’
The Patient by US author Jasper DeWitt is an eerie and speculative tale that blurs the lines of psychiatry, horror and the supernatural. It is an easy and fast paced read, that can be consumed in just one afternoon or evening sitting. The Patient is a forceful tale that will most likely get right under your skin. Don’t read this one late at night!
The Patient situates the reader in the year 2008, as we meet an ambitious young psychiatrist, Parker H. This highly intelligent and driven psychiatrist takes on a posting in a rundown mental health facility in the New England region. At this facility, Parker H takes on a notorious patient named Joe, who has been locked away in this facility since a child. Joe is lost cause and no one has been able to cure him. Despite case notes and various staff over the years attempting to give Joe a diagnosis, nothing has come to fruition. In fact, Joe leaves behind a trail of suicide and mental illness with those who have come into contact with him. Joe is one truly dangerous man. But Parker is certain he is going to be the one to crack Joe. However, as Parker gets closer to the truth about Joe, strange things start to occur that will put Parker’s life at risk.
The Patient is San Francisco based writer Jasper DeWitt’s debut novel. DeWitt’s novel has been compared to The Silent Patient, a book that I hold in very high regard. Asylum stories both fascinate and scare me, but I was willing to leap in to this one. The Patient was a fast read that I whipped through the space of an evening. I’m not sure if it was a wise move to read this one before bed, it is a nightmarish style read!
A first person style of narration helps the The Patient move in a swift and compelling manner. The majority of the book is set in the year 2008 and it follows a high flying new psychiatrist. We learn that this graduate has taken on an interesting posting in the New England mental health facility where Joe, our central patient has been based for a number of years. Parker’s testimony and observations are teamed with previous physician notes dating back to 1973, admittance records, memos, audiotapes and Parker’s summations on Joe’s case. These additions help build an overall picture in regards to this disturbed man. I think half the fun with this novel was trying to assess Joe and categorise Joe’s illness. However, Joe was a slippery character and I was unable to assign a final diagnosis to him.
DeWitt fills in his narrative base with a number of side plots that add further speculation to this intriguing title. The operations of the New England facility over the years, along with mystery surrounding the previous staff involved with Joe in the facility gained my interest. I was also genuinely concerned for Parker’s welfare the more he delved into this case. I had to admire Parker’s heroics, but at times Parker felt overly confident and arrogant. There were some instances where I did feel sorry for Joe, but once DeWitt started to venture in the supernatural and horror based genre, I began to feel unsettled about the storyline direction. I did find my interest peaked at the mention of a family mystery, but some unanswered questions remained in relation to this area of the novel. The lead up to the conclusion of The Patient was mind bending, disturbing and open ended. But I did find some reverence in DeWitt’s parting words.
‘Whatever you do, don’t tell your child that the monsters they see are only things they created with their imaginations. Because if even a little bit of this story is true, you might be signing their death warrants.’
Interesting fodder! It definitely makes you think twice about what you say to your children! The Patient is a creepy confessional style thriller with leanings towards horror, and the supernatural.
The Patient by Jasper DeWitt was published on 8th July 2020 by Harper Collins Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Patient, Jasper DeWitt, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Harper Collins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.