Audiobook Review: The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

Title: The Hypnotist
Author: Lars Kepler
Genre: Mystery
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.

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12 Responses to Audiobook Review: The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    All Scandinavian crime fiction gets compared to Larsson and I think that really sucks. Really? They do this to Nesbo too. Aggravates me. I did buy this one on Kindle right when it first came out, impulsively. I do want to get to it at some point. EW raved about it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – Nesbo is definitely on my list – but I want to wait until I can read the series in order. I’m kind of OCD about that.

  2. Beth Hoffman says:

    This isn’t a book I’d normally pick up, but your review has me very interested!

  3. Yeah I think marketing departments really need to cool it on these comparisons, because often they are not quite right and either lead you to expect more from a book than you’ll get or you end up avoiding something awesome b/c you don’t like the book/author it’s being compared to!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Amy – I agree! If I see “the next Hunger Games” or “If you love, Hunger Games…” on a book blurb again, I’m going to scream!

  4. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    This book sounds good even if it doesn’t live up to Larsson’s work. I really like that cover for some reason.

  5. Michelle says:

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Larrsson book and opted not to continue the series, so this one definitely has piqued my interest. I think I may have a copy around here somewhere in fact. I agree that the incessant comparisons usually do nothing but disappoint readers.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michelle – Kepler is different, but definitely a compelling storyteller. I’m really looking forward to the next book coming out in the US.

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