The Hypnotist ~ by Lars Kepler

I’m giving this book a “don’t even bother” unless you are a real fan of Scandi-Noir arguably at its noir-est.  According to “The Complete Review,” The Washington Post and Time Magazine each gave it an A while the Guardian gave it a D. The other reviews  sampled were completely scattered and The Complete Review said there was no consensus.

Me?  I almost tossed this library book, but at about 1/2 way through I was very confused and there was something compelling about it, so I started over. 

The Hypnotist 
by Lars Kepler 
2018 (560 pages)
Read by Saul Reichlin 17h 38m
Translated by Ann Long
Rating: C- / Scandi-noir 
(- Book 1The Killer Instinct series ) 

The story is gratuitously violent and sexually explicit. Don’t go here if you’re sensitive to anything.  The basic plot is mildly interesting  and that made me want to find out what happens – children are involved. The writing is at about a 5th grade level. 

A horrendous mass murder has just been committed. It wasn’t  random because a whole family was targeted and mother, father, sister and brother have been executed, but a younger brother and an older sister got away.  The police officer from the national force is in charge of the case calls a psychiatrist he knows who might be able to help via hypnosis (legal within strict limits in Sweden).  

This is a book which was conceived and developed for the express purpose of creating maximum tension. The short words put into short sentences for short paragraphs and short chapters (110 of them all told) make it fast and seem even tenser.  All that. plus an excellent reader for the Audio version, certainly worked   I started over at about 1/2 way and actually finished.  

The main characters are Joona Lina, a police detective, Eric Maria Bark, a psychiatrist, Simone, Eric’s wife, Kenneth, Simone’s father a retired police officer, and Benjamin the 12-year old sone of Joona and Simone.

So now Benjamin is kidnapped, his wife gets close to obsessed about everything from her husband’s fidelity to the well-being and whereabouts of her son, meanwhile, the psychiatrist – the protagonist here – is taking too many drugs and tries not to think about his past.  Benjamin has a girlfriend who is a few years older and has a mentally challenged younger brother.  

Then there is another tier of characters which includes police and hospital employees,  and some very unbalanced people who were Eric’s clients.  

 At 560 pages The Hypnotist is quite long and very dark;  I think it’s a shade darker than the usual Scandi-noir thrillers I read several years ago even including the last of the Stieg Larsson books.  The set-up is that there is a mass shooting at the high school arena and then three more people have been viscously murdered at the home of the coach.  That’s when Eric,  the psychiatrist gets a phone call from Joona, the detective.  Jason wants Eric to hypnotize the young boy for clues to prevent the murder of the older adaughter who was away from home. 

The eponymous main character hypnotizes  and reveals some really scary details. Now everyone involved is in danger from the family of the victims to the the hospital staff and police deputies. 

Lars Kepler is a husband and wife team from Sweden who together have  written about 10 books  and won several awards.   

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