Creepy cover + creepy tale = good read. The Hypnotist is a debut novel for Lars Kepler (a husband and wife team from Sweden)
Three members of the Ek family have been brutally murdered. Their son Josef was miraculously found alive amongst the carnage. Inspector Joona Linna is brought in on the case. Dr. Erik Bark is one of the physicians at the hospital Josef brought to. Bark was a renowned hypnotist, using his skill to help patients uncover and heal from trauma. However he has sworn off hypnotism - a past event is alluded to but not fully explained in the beginning. Urged on by Linna, but against his better judgment, Bark hypnotizes Josef. However, what Josef reveals is unexpected to say the least.
I enjoyed the engimatic character of Joona Linna very much. His confidence in his abilities is not bravado, but he does make a point of asking "What did I tell you?" when he is proven correct. His calm demeanor hides a character not fully explored in this first book of a planned series.
The book takes a different direction with Dr. Bark's involvement. Slowly we are led down a different path as the events that ended his use of hypnotism are revealed. His past comes to haunt him in the present, as does Josef's case.
I found myself continually off kilter as I read The Hypnotist - no one behaved as I expected them to at all. The cadence of the prose added to this off balance feeling at times, but was in keeping with the story. I found the interaction between Bark and his wife quite puzzling at times. Not that it was a bad thing - I really had no idea where the plot line was going next - there was layer upon layer of plotting. I like not being able to predict an outcome and Kepler kept me on my toes.
I look forward to the next book by this duo. The Hypnotist is an international bestseller with rights sold in over 30 countries. It's been on the Globe and Mail bestseller list since it's release. Warning for readers - there are definitely some graphic scenes.
Read an excerpt of The Hypnotist.