three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
55-Nov-Dec-2011
By: 
Lars Kepler
user_rating: 
0

A-The HypnotistLars Kepler is the pseudonym for the husband/wife duo of Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril. This latest entry in the ongoing influx of Nordic crime novels and a best seller in Europe focuses on a young boy who witnesses a gruesome triple homicide.

The Story: Detective Joona Linna comes to the small city of Tumba, Sweden, to investigate a horrifying triple murder that has set the citizens on edge. A young boy is the only witness to the savage crime, but he has suffered major injuries and is almost comatose from trauma. As he investigates the murders, Linna realizes he has nothing: no evidence, no motive, and no suspects. Desperate to close the case and to catch the killer, Linna contacts Dr. Erik Bark, a disgraced hypnotist, to help him. As Linna's desperation increases, he starts to cross moral and ethical boundaries that could jeopardize the case--and his career.
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. 512 pages. $27. ISBN: 9780374173951

Boston Globe 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Nordic thrillers are notably graphic in their depictions of violence, and The Hypnotist is no exception. ... Kepler's novel unfolds like Russian nesting dolls, as one resolved mystery only leads to another, pushing us deeper into the impenetrable horror at the center of all Nordic thrillers, the primitive, violent instincts of a killer." Chuck Leddy

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The deftly plotted story barrels along in more than a hundred short, swift scenes; it moves about as fast as a 500-page novel can. ... The book is like [Miles Davis's Kind of Blue], with frequent surprises and grace notes amid the carnage. With any luck, we'll hear more of Lars Kepler." Patrick Anderson

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"If some plot points feel inspired and some inspire eye-rolling, mostly they rush by quickly enough to keep the adrenaline flowing. ... [This is] a novel that operates primarily on the surface, lacking the depth of fellow Scandinavians-in-crime such as Henning Mankell or Karin Fossum." Mindy Farabee

Cleveland Plain Dealer 2 of 5 Stars
"Kepler's writing is bloody and brutal, though this time the ultraviolence is directed more at children than women. ... As it is, The Hypnotist reads more like a movie script than a novel, lots of surface action, but shallow." Laura DeMarco

Critical Summary

Kepler's writing style is taut and action-packed, and the novel has the typical gore and violent crimes that have become the hallmark of Swedish crime fiction. Some critics, however, noticed that the novel lacked the depth and plausibility of many of Kepler's contemporaries; these reviewers also argued that the novel was written with a "filmic" quality, and, indeed, the novel has already embarked on the long process of becoming a movie. In the end, The Hypnotist may be too superficial to satisfy hardcore Scandinavian crime fiction fans, but it is nonetheless a worthwhile offering for those interested in the genre.