Monday, March 11, 2013

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist
by Lars Kepler
5 stars - fasten your seat belts

Wowee! This was stay up too late to read "just a few more pages" or "no thanks, I'd rather read than watch a movie tonight" kind of good. What a ride!

I will say right up front, not for the squeamish. The murders and other acts of terror are awful and there are enough sociopaths to make you afraid to give out your address to anybody.

If you can manage that, then get ready for a great book. 

To discuss too much of the plot would be impossible. Why? Because this book has too many surprising twists for me to want to reveal more than the most cursory information. While some books full of changes in direction and false leads seem contrived, this one had more of a "oh damn, now what?" feel to it. 

Let's go with the dust jacket:

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there's only one surviving witness - the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he's suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock

Uh oh. Detective Linna calls on Dr. Erik Maria Bark to hypnotize the boy and try to help solve the case. Dr. Bark had, some time ago, specialized in hypnosis as therapy for severely traumatized individuals, but was in retirement from that field and reluctant to help out. However,  he cannot resist the case. He hypnotizes the boy, draws out some surprising information, and the story is underway.

Just when you think you know what this book is about, it turns out to be about something else completely and then back again and forward and sideways and.... oh my! Chillingly plausible with very human characters whose personal struggles are dealt with in enough depth for the reader to form alliances. 

Translated from the Swedish by Ann Long. Kudos to Ms. Long for being able to effectively maintain the author's writing style in the translation. 

It's dark, it's ugly, and it is a great thriller.

The author is actually two people who jointly write under the pen name of Lars Kepler. I don't know quite how that is managed. I never had the sense of reading two different authors. 

I have a habit of cruising the new release section of the library, finding something interesting, and then going to the stacks to get earlier works by the same authors. That's how I stumbled over this particular book. The good news is that it means there is another volume of theirs still to look forward to. However, I need to cleanse my pallet with a couple of happy making books from my ever present stack before I am ready to subject myself to the intensity of their newer story.


  1. Been meaning to get to that one. Will make sure I do. I think I read authors are married, might help with having one voice.

    Daisy's Mommy.

  2. I know about having to alternate types of books. Have you ever read anything by Paul Levine - Jake Lassiter or Solomon and Lord series? He writes a mighty fine mystery, albeit without all of the nightmare inducing elements. And since I dream very vividly, those can be problematic for me.

  3. Hmm, I think I might have to get a sample of this one. I haven't read a crime novel in a long time ...