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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist is a Scandinavian crime novel by a husband and wife team.  Reviews on the book are pretty evenly divided.  While I had several problems with the book, I still read through it avidly.

The book opens with a gruesome triple murder and the only survivor is so severely injured that he may not survive.  Detective Joona Linna asks Dr. Erik Bark to hypnotize fifteen-year-old Josef to get some information about the killer.  The information gleaned from Josef gives the case a surprising turn.

One of the problems with the book is that one of the plot lines feels abandoned (and was never quite clear on certain details) when the second plot line takes over.  The protagonist doesn't have much of a role in the first half of the novel, and several plot elements seem over-the-top.  Details of police procedure seem haphazard and unlikely, as do certain hospital details.  The book "feels" like it was written by two different people, and perhaps should have been two separate books.  Some writing teams manage to make everything coalesce; other aren't quite as successful.

Nevertheless, I did find the book a page turner.  I liked Joona Linna, the detective, and would have preferred that he play a larger role throughout the book.  The main characters were well-drawn, and although Josef and his sister Evelyn were a pretty thin, Erik Bark, his wife, son, and father-in-law develop nicely (if not entirely believably).

If the author(s) would tone down some of the violence and shock value stuff, give Joona Linna more attention, and tighten up the plots, I would enjoy seeing this become a series.  As it is, it doesn't meet the standards set by other translated Scandinavian crime novels.

Fiction.  Scandinavian/Crime/Police Procedural.  2011.  528 pages.

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