26 May 2014

Review: The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist by Lars KeplerIf you like Scandinavian mysteries and thrillers then I'm sure you've heard of the author Lars Kepler (really the pen name for a Swedish couple). I had too, but I was slow to start this series starring police inspector Joona Linna.

However, I gave a copy of the first Linna book, The Hypnotist, to my father and both he and my niece made a point of telling me that they liked it. So on that double recommendation, I decided to give the audiobook a try.

In short, Kepler had me on the edge of my seat. I was even talking to the characters: "No, don't go down in the basement!" "Watch out!" I mean it, I was totally invested.

  • The plot. When Joona Linna takes on a case involving a teenage boy, Josef, who barely survived when his family was murdered by a knife-wielding intruder, he calls on Erik Maria Bark, a psychologist who once used hypnosis as therapy for traumatized patients. For reasons we learn only later, Erik has vowed to never hypnotize anyone ever again. Joona, however, talks Erik into helping Josef remember what happened to his family, hoping that the boy will reveal the killer once he's under hypnosis. That one act sets off a whirlwind of events that profoundly affect Erik and his family. There seems to be no way out of the disastrous situation.
  • The good and the bad. The Hypnotist was a slow start for me. There are several things going on that concern both Joona and Erik together and separately and it took me a while to get a handle on the characters and their personalities. But once the action started (a couple of hours into the audiobook) I was suddenly sucked right into the story and couldn't leave. Some of the action is startling, some scary, and some disturbing (in a good thriller kind of way). I don't want to tell you exactly what happens because I don't want to take away from the shock value, but if you stick with this story through the setup, you will be amply rewarded. My only other complaint was that one of the plot lines seems to have been dropped, but I got over that.
  • The cover. Once you've read the book, you will find the cover to be really, really creepy!
  • The audiobook. The unabridged audiobook edition (Blackstone Audio, 17 hr, 28 min) was read by Mark Bramhall, who did a good job, although I was bothered by some odd pronunciations of a couple of English words. On the other hand, he distinguished the characters enough so I could tell them apart and excelled at adding to the thriller/tension part of the story. I won't hesitate to listen to the next book in the series, also read by Bramhall.
  • Recommendation. Despite a slow start, I became fully invested in the story and recommend Lars Kepler's The Hypnotist to anyone who likes psychological thrillers, Scandinavian mysteries, and semi-scary escape reading.
Published by Farrar, Straus & Girous / Sara Crichton Books, 2011
Source: Bought (audio) & review (print) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 5/26/14, 7:39 AM  

I'm always impressed with good collaboration, when two people manage to sound like one voice.

bermudaonion 5/26/14, 7:55 AM  

I haven't tried any Scandinavian mysteries yet. Shame on me!

Kate @Midnight Book Girl 5/26/14, 8:02 AM  

I read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it! Maybe I'll finally readthe second one on audio. :)

Daryl 5/26/14, 9:22 AM  

i too read this a few years ago when i got hooked on the Harry Hole stories and only a few were available here .. the ad in the Times BR claimed if you liked Nesbø you'd love Kepler .. what i did find is both writers take a long time getting to the action ..

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/26/14, 9:59 AM  

I have read many books lately that took me awhile to get into, but I'm glad I stuck with them because they paid off.

Unknown 5/26/14, 11:23 AM  

I'll have to give this book another try down the road. Last year I started listening to it but found myself struggling with it. Despite Bramhall's "Agent Friday" narration (which was perfect in approach, IMO,) I couldn't get into it. For me, it wasn't about the slow start so much as that I just simply hated all the characters. I went to print, but after a couple of weeks of reading only a couple of the chapters (and they are very short) I realized that I needed to table it. Maybe if I do a challenge wherein I need a foreign country title, that will compel me to return to it. :-)

Dogeared Copy/Tanya

Sandy Nawrot 5/26/14, 11:55 AM  

I bought this on Kindle back when it first came out! And there it sits. I think because it was long maybe? Anyway, you have resumed my interest. I need to make a point in reading it this summer!

maria helena 5/26/14, 4:09 PM  

I loved The Hypnotist, and the second book in the series (The Nightmare) is just as good!


Nise' 5/26/14, 9:56 PM  

I really like this series and could not put The Fire Witness (book 3) down.

kay - Infinite Shelf 5/27/14, 4:15 PM  

Scandinavian mysteries are really hit or miss for me, and so my copy of this (in French translation though) has been waiting quietly on a shelf after I gave it a try and couldn't get into it. Maybe I just need to get pass the slow start then!

Anonymous,  5/28/14, 12:47 PM  

This was a hit on audio for me, as well. I keep meaning to pick up book two, but haven't done it yet.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 6/1/14, 1:16 AM  

I loved this book! That's interesting that you thought it got off to a slow start. I thought it started off with a bang and kept going full steam. I wonder if audio vs print could have something to do with it? Anyway, I'm glad you liked it!

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