Title: The Hypnotist
Author: Lars Kepler
Publisher: Ferrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Mark Bramhall
First line: Like fire, just like fire.
Detective Inspector Joona Linna is only trying to save a young woman’s life when he asks hypnotist Erik Maria Bark to hypnotize a young assault victim – he has no idea of the cascade of events that will follow. The fifteen-year-old boy is the only survivor of a brutal attack that has taken his father, mother, and younger sister – and Inspector Linna fears that his older sister will be next if the perpetrator cannot be found immediately. Bark breaks a decade-long vow never to practice hypnosis again – and unleashes a series of horrific events that make him and his family the target of a psychopath.
The Hypnotist has been compared to Stieg Larsson’s books, and there are some similarities, but also major differences. The setting is an obvious similarity, as is the darkness of the subject matter. What is it about those Swedes and their creepy imaginations? There are a couple of different mysteries going on in The Hypnotist, and both of them involve gruesome, horrifying crimes.
One major difference, however, is in the author’s ability to write character. Larsson’s characters Lisbeth and Mikhail became very real to me as I listened to the series on audio, while none of Kepler’s characters seemed as vibrant or fully developed. I did like the character of the detective, though, and was happy to discover that there is another Joona Linna mystery coming out later this year. I would love to get to know his back story and personality more than we were allowed to in The Hypnotist.
Comparing this author to Larsson sets him up for an unfair disadvantage, in my opinion, because I started listening to this book expecting another Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Even though my expectations weren’t met, this was a thoroughly engrossing mystery. Not entirely unpredictable – I knew the perpetrator a bit before the characters figured it out – but still full of suspense and action that kept me listening long after I should have turned it off to do something else.
Audio notes: Mark Bramhall is a new audiobook narrator to me, and did a fine, if somewhat unremarkable, job of voicing the characters.