Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist

"'‘The Hypnotist’ is the stuff nightmares are made of. '"


Early one morning, Erik Maria Bark is woken from his bed. A call from the hospital requests his presence. A young boy has been admitted with stab wounds all over his body. His father, mother and sister have been brutally murdered. He is the only survivor. What they want from Erik is to hypnotise the boy quickly so that he can give the police some piece of evidence that lies deep in his subconscious: but Erik promised himself he would never hypnotise ever again and it is a promise he has kept for ten years - until tonight. As the truth emerges, Erik finds that he has made himself a target of this heinous crime.

A few days later, Erik’s son is kidnapped from the family home. His wife, Simone, was drugged and through the haze watched her son being dragged from the appartment. Is this kidnapping connected to the murders of this innocent family? With a medical condition that could be fatal to their son, Erik must find his boy - and quickly. Requesting the help of the detective investigating the murders, Joona Linna acts like the Rottweiler he is credited to be and is soon tracking down, possibly not one, but two serial killers.

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‘The Hypnotist’ is the stuff nightmares are made of. Firstly, I will reveal the publishing world’s worst kept secret – Lars Kepler is a figment of the imagination for the married Swedish couple who write under this pseudonym. I had been warned that this novel would not be a comfortable read; that its darkness was all consuming, however that is what us crime readers seem to enjoy these days. And there is certainly bleakness aplenty in this book. From the very beginning, the description of the slaughtered family propels you immediately into a nightmare. The book starts during the lead up to Christmas, finishing on Christmas Eve but there is nothing to suggest from any of the characters that this is likely to be a ‘merry’ time and certainly the ‘goodwill to all men’ appears to have been discarded! It is very early on in the novel that you realise that not everything is harmonious in the marriage between Erik and his wife, Simone. A long ago affair keeps the two adrift from the other despite there being a bond between them. It is through scenes with a very human heart in the writing that you see a marriage in crisis, rocked by betrayal and hurt. But can they work together without bickering and throwing accusations to find their son? ‘The Hynoptist’ is a gripping novel. It is with great experience that the writers show that, despite us believing the book is going to be about one case, it is in fact about another thing entirely. They simply show that things can happen to people through their own actions, that something that happened long ago can still have a consequence today. With short, sharp chapters, Kepler continues the momentum until all parties have to encounter their own private ‘Haunted House’. For me, the only part of the novel that sagged was Erik’s experiences ten years ago. Although I can see that this information was needed by the reader I felt it would have been better to disperse Erik’s past amongst the chapters rather than stopping the action and giving his past in one big block. I also hope that we will see more of Joona Linna in future books. Apart from that, I would say that ‘The Hypnotist’ is definitely a winner and will have many people shivering in their beds, hypnotised and unable to put this book down. Be prepared to have all the lights on when you read this baby!

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