Saturday 31 May 2014

The Hypnotist (by Lars Kepler) - A review

The Hypnotist

Location: Sweden
Author: Lars Kepler
Publisher/Year: Sarah Crichton Books/2011 (in Swedish in 2009)
Genre: Crime
Synopsis: When a key witness to a brutal crime finds himself unable to remember the details of the incident, a detective partners with a hypnotist to break through and find the perpetrator

With the worldwide success of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, much interest has been raised in the domain of Scandinavian crime literature. One supposed must read in this category is The Hypnotist, the first of the Joona Linna series from Lars Kepler (in actuality the couple Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril). Despite my interest in this domain, I have consistently missed out on this series. Nevertheless, better late than never, so I gave it a go in my otherwise busy month of May!

Given my lack of time for this review and overall, I'll fall back on one of my old lazy tricks and give you the Goodreads synopsis:

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. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

While this story maintains the realistic setting and fast pace of many of the better known Scandinavian crime thrillers, it is immediately apparent this is not quite as 'gritty' and 'real' as, say, a book from Stieg Larsson or Gunnar Staalesen. There is an unusual element coming into play throughout, whether it be the involvement of the hypnotist or the characters themselves. Detective Inspector Joona Linna is not your typical quiet genius detective as seen in such tale, but a protagonist happy to point out his brilliance. Bark, on the other hand, is clearly a bit unnerved by some aspects of the situation and how they pertain to his life, but maintains a steady, determine approach. The interaction between characters is interesting, and helps make the tale work.

It is a good work, perhaps less gripping than I anticipated but clearly still a winner. I wish I were in a position to tell you more, but for now all I can say is that it definitely seems worth a shot for those into the genre.

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