Summary: Part 4, Chapters 14-21

Chapter 14

When they return to Theo’s office, Alicia sits in his chair instead of her own. Theo thinks that he should ask her about this but is impatient to hear the rest of the story and encourages her to continue. Alicia begins where she left off, describing her terror as she sat tied to the chair with the wires cutting into her arms whenever she moved. She and the intruder wait together for hours until Gabriel finally returns home around 10:30. The intruder threatens to kill Gabriel if Alicia makes any noise, so she remains silent as Gabriel makes his way through the dark house. When Gabriel finds them, Alicia claims, the intruder leaps on him and hits him in the head with the gun repeatedly until he loses consciousness. Then, the intruder ties him to a chair, shoots him six times, and leaves without saying anything.  

Chapter 15 

Theo does not believe Alicia’s story. Gabriel, he points out, was shot five times, not six, and when the police arrived, Alicia was not tied to a chair but was standing in front of Gabriel’s body. Annoyed, Theo wonders about Alicia’s motives for lying in such an obvious and unconvincing fashion. Still, Theo decides not to mention his doubts to Alicia, who says that she’s tired but would like to talk to him again the following day, as she has one more important thing to share with him. Theo writes down everything that was said during their session and then goes to Diomedes’ office, where he finds him having an afternoon nap. After Theo reads his session notes to Diomedes, Diomedes asks Theo to describe his own feelings of countertransference, or in other words, the feelings that he has picked up from Alicia. Theo feels afraid, as he feels that the stakes of this case are high, as well as frustration and even anger. The two walk onto the fire escape where Diomedes smokes a cigar. After a moment, Diomedes says that he doesn’t believe anything that Alicia said, including the existence of the stalker. Further, he adds that Alicia’s lies appear to be a performance designed to appeal to Theo’s own chivalric nature. The following day, Diomedes says, Theo should confront Alicia with her lies and see how she responds. 

Chapter 16 

Theo follows Kathy to the park again, where she has a second rendezvous with the man. He continues to follow them as they spend an hour in a pub, laughing and kissing. After, he follows the man rather than Kathy, trailing him as he completes various errands, takes the bus, and chats on the phone. As he trails him through a neighborhood, he picks up a rock from a garden and is about to kill the man until a door opens in a nearby house. Theo hides and then leaves, concluding that he isn’t truly a killer but resolving to find some other way to get even with Kathy’s affair partner.  

Chapter 17 

Theo claims that he planned to have it out with Alicia as Diomedes recommended, but when he returns to The Grove, it is full of emergency medical personnel. Yuri informs him that Alicia has overdosed and is now in a coma. Staff find an empty pill bottle near her bed and assume it was either an accident or a deliberate suicide attempt, citing her previous attempts at self-harm. Christian notes that there have been incidents of drug dealing at The Grove, and Indira adds sadly that this incident will have a damaging effect on the other patients. Theo suggests that Elif might be responsible, as he suspects that she has been dealing drugs to other patients. Indira asks Theo if he would like a moment alone with Alicia, and he accepts. He thinks that Christian will try to pin the blame on him, and then notices a tiny pinprick by a vein on Alicia’s arm, which suggests to him that somebody deliberately injected her with a large amount of morphine, hoping to kill her.  

Chapter 18 

Diomedes returns to the facility after having a meeting with the Trust. Diomedes has a meeting with Stephanie and Theo, and he notes that this accident will give the Trust a good excuse to shut down The Grove for good. Stephanie argues that patient safety, not the future of The Grove, should be their top priority. She turns to Theo and asks him to explain his theory that Elif provided the drugs to Alicia. He is about to explain his theory that Alicia was the victim of an attempted murder when Stephanie interrupts him and says that she has good reason to believe that Yuri is responsible, as he has been too relaxed about safety standards and leaves the drug cabinet unlocked. Theo, who realizes that Stephanie intends to use Yuri as a scapegoat, offers his own theory that Christian intentionally poisoned Alicia. He provides some evidence, including Christian’s deliberate concealment of his previous sessions with Alicia, which gives him a motive to silence her. They ask Theo if he still has Alicia’s journal, but he notes that he returned it to her during their last session, and that he didn’t see it when he was last in her room. Stephanie is shocked by Theo’s allegations, but Diomedes decides to call the police.  

Chapter 19 

Police offers swarm The Grove, and Chief Inspector Steven Allen, a heavy-set man with large glasses, listens to Theo’s theory. He commandeers Diomedes’ office as his headquarters and summons Christian, who appears nervous and guilty. Theo feels confident that the police will charge Christian with attempted murder. When he passes through the Goldfish Bowl, Theo catches Yuri dealing drugs to Elif and reflects that he might been wrong to defend Yuri to the other staff. Yuri approaches Theo and tells him that Jean-Felix has been waiting at The Grove for hours after arriving that morning to see Alicia. Theo is surprised and rushes to the waiting room, but Jean-Felix has already left.  

Chapter 20 

As Theo leaves The Grove, he is confronted by an irate and mournful Max, who accuses Theo of negligence and blames him for Alicia’s condition. Max is unable to conceal his clearly strong feelings for Alicia, and his wife, Tanya, returns to the car in embarrassment. Theo walks away as Max continues to hurl abusive language at him, but Max does not attempt to follow.  

Chapter 21 

Theo returns to the home of Katherine’s lover. When the man leaves the house, Theo continues to watch his wife, feeling that he hast to do something to help her, as she seems unaware of her husband’s infidelity. Theo returns to watch her several times in the following days, even trailing her when she takes a walk. Cryptically, he notes that he has purchased some equipment and has a goal in mind, though he hasn’t planned out how he’s going to execute it yet. One night, he tries out the gate and sees that it is unlocked. He experiences a small thrill as he sneaks through the garden and into what he believes is a small summerhouse at the back of the property. The man’s wife walks through the garden towards the summerhouse and Theo, putting on a balaclava to hide his identity, concludes that if he's going to carry out his plan, he must do it now. She speaks to her husband on the phone, and then picks up a paintbrush, unaware of Theo’s presence until she catches his reflection in the glass. She freezes in terror after noticing his knife, and Theo acknowledges that this was his first meeting with Alicia Berenson.   


As Alicia begins to talk, the balance of power between her and Theo begins to shift. Previously, she appeared docile and helpless despite her occasional outbursts of violence. Her characteristic silence permitted others to project their own meanings onto her. Theo, for example, often interpreted her silence as tacit approval of his own plans and intentions. Now that she is speaking, however, Theo realizes that she has a fierce intelligence and a strong will, and he resolves not to underestimate her. When they return to his office after their cigarette break, she sits in his chair, symbolically assuming the position of therapist and the power that comes with that role, delegating Theo to the role of patient. He notices this “telling gesture,” but he doesn’t ask her about it, as he is under the thrall of her story. Alicia understands the power that she now holds over Theo, relishing his desperation to reach the ending, and delaying the end of her tale to maximize suspense.

Further, Alicia is a wily storyteller, bending the truth in various ways. Though Theo knows that she is not telling the truth, he does not understand how much of her tale is deceptive, nor her reasons for lying. Ultimately, then, Alicia’s speech proves to be just as difficult to interpret as her silence. When she was “the silent patient,” Theo felt that getting her to speak would clear up the mystery of Gabriel’s death. When she begins to talk, however, he realizes that her speech offers no clear and easy path to the truth, but rather, allows her to manipulate him in various ways.  

Diomedes recognizes the power that Alicia has over Theo, arguing that she is performing for him, adapting her behavior and modifying her persona. Specifically, Diomedes suggests that she has cast herself in the role of the vulnerable woman to appeal to his chivalric desire to rescue her like a knight in shining armor. Diomedes also argues that, because of his empathetic approach to therapy, Theo is emotionally confused, unable to distinguish his feelings from Alicia’s, as they are knotted together like a “tangled ball of wool.” Theo cannot even be sure that his feelings of fear, anger, and frustration are his own, or if he has picked them up from Alicia via countertransference during their sessions together. In highlighting Theo’s vulnerability to Alicia’s manipulations, Diomedes proves, yet again, to be a perceptive observer. When Alicia described her feelings of terror at being held captive by the intruder in her own home, Theo was overwhelmed by his desire to protect and take care of her, validating Diomedes’ concerns.  

In the chaos that follows Alicia’s apparent overdose, the disorder that has plagued The Grove throughout the novel becomes impossible to ignore. Rather than working together towards a common purpose, the staff at The Grove distrust each other, quickly pinning the blame for Alicia’s condition on one another. Theo defends Yuri from Stephanie’s accusations of carelessness, only to discover that the head nurse really is dealing drugs to patients. Pinning the blame on Christian is a convenient solution for Theo, as the two have been undermining each other’s efforts since the beginning of the novel. Similarly, Stephanie and Diomedes stand in stark opposition to each other. While previously Stephanie had been presented as an antagonistic figure, the argument following Alicia’s emergency casts her in a different light. While Diomedes expresses little concern for Alicia and instead thinks only about defending The Grove from charges of carelessness, Stephanie argues that safety should be their top priority, not the reputation of their hospital.  

Part 4 of the novel ends with a chilling twist, as Theo reveals that he was Alicia’s stalker. This revelation forces the reader to question and reconsider everything that they have read up to this point. Small details, such as Theo’s certainty that Alicia is lying in her account of what happened that night, take on new meanings in respect of Theo’s direct involvement in the event. By the end of Part 4, it is clear that Theo has manipulated his narrative, presenting the events surrounding Kathy’s affair as if they occurred at the same time as Theo’s treatment of Alicia at The Grove. In fact, Kathy’s affair with Gabriel took place years earlier, prior to his murder. Through this twist, the protagonist of the story begins to assume the role of its villain. However, at this point in the novel it is still not clear who murdered Gabriel, as neither Alicia nor Theo have provided a truthful account of that night.