Friday, September 30, 2011

Julie's Review: The Hypnotist

Summary: Prepare for The Hypnotist to cast its spell. In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes. It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl. An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it’s been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it’s America’s turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

Review: Deeply disturbing, depressing, gory, graphic and upsetting; The Hypnotist wasn't really what I expected. I barely saw any rays of hope until the end of the novel. I like to think that life isn't that bleak, but perhaps it is in Sweden.

What I thought was going to be a book about a boy and finding the murder of his family turned out very differently. In fact, halfway through the book it shifted to a completely different plot. While it was related to one of the main characters, Erik Maria Bark, it never translated to the original plot. Essentially, these could have been two different books and for me they should have been.

While the 2nd case was wrapped up and the motives were made clear, the first case was wrapped up but I never got a sufficient answer to the motivation behind the crime. Was it really just that the murderer's mother didn't hug him enough? Did bond with him? I know that does have a psychological effect on people but this seemed extreme.

I certainly didn't feel much sympathy toward Dr. Bark and his wife Simone. They were pretty self-centered and shallow, which made them hard to connect with while reading the book. In the end you wonder if their marriage will survive the lies they've told each other and the lies they are telling themselves.

The most interesting character for me was Detective Joona Linna. He is a bulldog when it comes to solving his cases and he's almost never wrong with his hunches. In fact, because of this he's become somewhat of a legend. He follows his instincts and yet he does it within the law. The author alludes to something in Joona's background that makes him driven but we never find out more. That was a disappointment for me as a reader. I wanted to know what made him so determined.

While I thought the author did a good job of setting the scene and the desperation in both cases, it was too over the top for me with the gore. I think the plot could have been advanced without such descriptions. Leave somethings to the reader's imagination.

I would be interested in another Joona Linna novel if that's where the author wants to go in the future. He's an intriguing character with a background you want to know more about and want to unravel it slowly.

Frankly, I'm getting very tired of every Scandinavian crime writer being compared to Stieg Larsson. Those books are unique as are the books that these other authors write and perhaps each should be judged on their own merit.

If you are looking for another Scandinavian thriller I highly recommend The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen. If you are still intrigued by The Hypnotist, pick it up and read it. I'd like to know your thoughts.

Final Take: 3/5



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