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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting adventure and page turning story telling
This was an interesting adventure which starts off with the brutal murder of a family. However, it soon branches into another crime story. As a reader I'm waiting to find out how the second is connected to the first. But the two stories only appear to be connected through the hypnotist performing hypnosis. The characters are well drawn and there's a secret in the...
Published on 14 July 2012 by Alison Gray

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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves; entertaining but ultimately empty
The Hypnotist is a cut above the average pulp thriller but it's not as intellectually or emotionally satisfying as some of the great Scandinavian noir of late -- fans of Larsson, Nesbo, Indridasson and Fossum will find it lacking in cohesion. It also loses that special Nordic form of underlying tension and uncertainty which usually informs the genre; it's there at the...
Published on 7 Jun. 2011 by Rowena Hoseason


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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves; entertaining but ultimately empty, 7 Jun. 2011
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
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The Hypnotist is a cut above the average pulp thriller but it's not as intellectually or emotionally satisfying as some of the great Scandinavian noir of late -- fans of Larsson, Nesbo, Indridasson and Fossum will find it lacking in cohesion. It also loses that special Nordic form of underlying tension and uncertainty which usually informs the genre; it's there at the beginning, but before long the story has slumped into a rather mundane domestic dispute and an unlikely investigation into a missing child.
That's a shame because the opening chapters and back story of the key character, the hypnotist, are fascinating and hold a lot of promise. But then that strand becomes swamped by a rather more dry police procedural. The result was an interesting novel, but not one which I would want to read again to re-live the experience. The detective didn't feel like a fully realised character to me, so if he is to be the central point of a whole series of books then he would need to be rather better defined -- his flashes of inspiration and unruly nature need to be better explored to make him compelling.
I'd grab this to read if stuck for a few hours, but wouldn't choose another book by the author if I could pick up something by Fred Vargas or Ake Edwardsson instead.
7/10
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting adventure and page turning story telling, 14 July 2012
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This review is from: The Hypnotist (Kindle Edition)
This was an interesting adventure which starts off with the brutal murder of a family. However, it soon branches into another crime story. As a reader I'm waiting to find out how the second is connected to the first. But the two stories only appear to be connected through the hypnotist performing hypnosis. The characters are well drawn and there's a secret in the hypnotist's past so he promised never to perform hypnosis again. He's portrayed as a fairly flawed character unable to cope with life without daily amounts of pill popping. His relationship with his wife is very shaky. She isn't drawn as fully and half way through the story a relationship pops up for her that seems quite out of keeping with the story so far. Also the sexual scenes seem gratuitous within the story. The story is fast paced and page turning, however, and I enjoyed it but I was waiting for a connection between the two crime stories that wasn't there.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, entertaining thriller, 26 April 2011
By 
H. Eaton "Helena Eaton" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
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'The Hypnotist' is a highly entertaining, gripping thriller, full of twists, turns and blind alleys, keeping you guessing right to the end. The writing is very accessible and brings the story to life in a very visual way - it's easy to imagine what the film of the book would be like.

The story is about a hypnotist, Erik Maria Bark, who hasn't practised his craft for over 10 years. He is called in to help with a case of a boy found badly injured but alive in his family home, after the rest of his family has been brutally murdered. Erik is pressurised into hypnotising the boy to see if he can remember anything which will help the police to find the killer. This foray back into practising hypnosis sets off a chain of events which involves the rest of his family and which forces him to re-examine his past and the reasons why he had to stop being a hypnotist.

I was worried that the book would wildly dramatise hypnosis as a magical, black art. It does misrepresent it to some degree, but I forced myself to accept this as a literary device so if you're like me and find the hypnotism angle off-putting, try to look at it that way!

I was frustrated with some aspects of the novel - for example there are aspects of the story that are not properly resolved and, to me, it felt as though the authors lost interest with the first part of the story and were keen to move on to the next! In parts it felt disjointed - at the beginning we get chapters devoted to different characters' take on the same time period, but this device isn't employed further into the book and I found that a bit odd. Lars Kepler is actually a pseudonym for a literary couple - Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril and I wonder if the joint-authorship was in any way responsible for the occasional disjointedness.

In spite of that, this is a great read and, apparently, will be the first in a series of books featuring Detective Inspector Joona Linna ... I very much look forward to the second.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bestseller by numbers, 3 July 2011
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This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
Overblown grand guignol, far too loosely plotted and with badly drawn characters. Fashionable "issues" thrown in to convince reviewers that it's saying something important; it isn't. Leaves an overwhelming impression of a literary couple (as the writers apparently are) who realized they weren't making enough out of their good stuff so analysed all the cliches which infest bestsellers and mixed them up to create this. Pity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping start, middling end - and TERRIBLE TRANSLATION!!!!, 24 Dec. 2011
By 
Apple-eater "Severn Boy" (Worcestershire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
I was utterly gripped by the first half of this book, but gradually found myself wondering whether I could be bothered seeing it through to the end.

As it stands, what could have been brilliant turned out just ok. The book seemed to start off as one story, dilute into several, none of which seemed to come to a satisfactory conclusion, and then end with a very 'seen it a million times before' finale. But it does provide an interesting and realistic image of Sweden, both the positive and the negative sides. You can almost smell the coffee and herrings!

I would also ask that publishers invest a bit more in translation. The English in this one is better than for some Swedish novels, but is still a mixture of UK and US English. This is probably a way of keeping costs down, but it is irritating. One minute people are ringing each other on their mobiles whilst driving on the motorway, next minute they're calling on their cells from the freeway. Same applies for police officer ranks. It would make a lot more sense if they used terms such as DC/DS/PC etc, which UK readers are familiar with, and their US equivalents for the US market.

All in all, this novel was ok, but I wouldn't read it again, recommend it to anyone else, or buy another by the same author.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Literary writers who can't write crime..., 16 Sept. 2011
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
There is an annoying trend for `literary fiction' writers, aghast at how few books they actually sell, to think they can just stamp out a crime thriller to pay the bills. Alongside this patronising view is the assumption that theirs will be `a cut above' and somehow superior because they are so literary.

This book shows that they are wrong.

The couple writing this may be great at what they do, but they can't write crime. There are at least four major problems with this novel.

Firstly, it is several novels at once. It's okay to segue between different scenarios and times, but please do it with some subtlety and smoothness. Don't, for example, just stuff ninety pages of back story into the book, stopping the momentum of what you've done, and leaving the reader bored.

Secondly, if you insist on writing a genre that is alien to you, at least have regard to the basics of that genre. Don't rely on crude stereotypes and tropes, thinking that your `literary brilliance' will stop it seeming mediocre. Weird evil kids, genius doctor with a secret past, aloof detective loved by all despite his social inadequacies. We've been here before.

Thirdly, have a plot. This has several, to be fair, but doesn't exploit any of them. One is wrapped up halfway (but somehow reappears again later), one is the clunky midsection mentioned above, one is ludicrous and resolved with a ridiculous leap.

Fourthly, get some credible characters. None of these characters leapt off the page, or seemed rounded or written in a controlled and credible way. Oh, and have some idea of pacing - when to ramp up the adrenaline, when to take a break and be more reflective.

This reads like a book written by two totally different people (though Nicci French seems to manage okay). It reads like it was written by people who don't read crime novels, but assume it must be simple to write one. It reads poorly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, 25 May 2011
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This review is from: The Hypnotist (Hardcover)
After suffering withdrawal symptoms from the fantastic Steig Larsson trilogy, and due to the fact that the book reviewer in my local newspaper is usually always spot on with their Book of the Week recommendations, I couldn't wait to start this. It did indeed have all the hallmarks of a great book. The beginning was terrific and I thought I had a new police hero in Joona Linna but strangely his part in the story fell a little flat. After the flashback to Erik's past 10 years ago, the story then became extremely implausible. I cannot describe how disappointed I was. In parts in was laughable, especially the coma victim scenario and the ending. I also found I didn't really like most of the characters, especially the dreadful Simone. Everyone seemed to be in a trance like state half the time, which got increasingly annoying as the story unfolded. If this husband and wife team write another book, which includes Joona Linna and more emphasis on his character and his past, I may give it a go to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they will really have to up their game to compete with the likes of Larsson and Mankell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As thriller with its twists and tension can be recommended, its writing style deserves barely a passing grade..., 11 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Paperback)
Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril, a Swedish literary couple. I'm starting this review with this fact because in many ways it's obvious this book was not written by one person.

In the cold Sweden clime, a horrible triple murder attracts the interest of inspector Joona Linna, who wants to investigate the murders. There's only one surviving witness, the boy whose family was killed in front of his eyes. The murderer also tried to kill him, but he survived multiple knife wounds and is in a state of shock. Desperate for information needed to uncover the truth, Linna would seek for unordinary solution - hypnosis. He calls Dr. Erik Maria Bark, once renowned doctor for his research related to hypnosis, to help him discover the killer through boy's eyes. Through the book several shocking truths are going to be revealed not about killer himself, but also about other main characters.

"The Hypnotist" is written in a strange sort of rushed but deliberate way, although book itself feels little too long. Some characters seem as they appear by accident, used and disposed when they aren't needed any longer; most of the times they take their time when they shouldn't and in other times rushing forward panicked when that seems unnecessary. Book is filled with dialogue, plot moves along fairly quickly though for such a thriller there's also a lot of pages too many spent, e.g. author's choice of recounting some episodes from past, from a different perspective that seem completely unnecessary. These are the moments where it can be seen that author is actually split between two views and cannot decide which direction to take, so she/he takes both of them.

This is not a new Stieg Larsson, although some parallels between the two authors may be withdrawn, most in terms of displaying the darkest corners of the human psyche, eerily precise described horrific crimes, motives so present in the Scandinavian thriller school thriller. There is also one unusual ever-present motive in book and that is the incompetence of the authorities, regardless of whether the police, social services or health professionals are discussed which is strange considering the Swedish reputation.

With an intriguing premise and a few promising characters, mainly Joona and Erik, with its breathless rush onwards, "The Hypnotist" is a readable, unpredictable thriller. Since the first pages it was obvious that the book's strong point was going to be the plot, but writing style indicates that author(s) is (are) no gifted.

As conclusion I wasn't sure what an appropriate assessment is for "The Hypnotist". As thriller with its twists and tension can be recommended, with its writing style deserves barely a passing grade but I will give it 4 stars, though be aware of literary style which sometimes seems both superficial and untalented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn, 3 Aug. 2013
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Paperback)
Two mysteries here. The first described this book that weighs in at 600 pages and on almost any one of these there will reference to the physical, mental or psychological problems, sometimes all three, of the characters. To start the story rolling, Detective Joona Linna, son of a policeman shot dead in the call of duty and who still bears the scars of an awful car accident, determines to take the lead in solving an horrific murder of a family, only one member of which, son Josef, has survived, covered in multiple stab wounds.

When it is discovered that Josef has an elder sister whose whereabouts are uncertain there is an urgent need to interview him in case his sister is at risk. However, he is not up to detailed questioning and Linna calls in the eponymous Hypnotist, Erik Maria Bark, to try to gain information under hypnosis. Linna has an enormous insecurity complex and has to be told by his coworkers that he was right after which he tells them, "I told you so." I almost began to wish that he would follow in his father's footsteps.

Bark has vowed never to hypnotise anyone again and is taking tablets by the dozen, contained in a wooden box with a parrot and native on (we are told this almost every time he takes a pill so it may be significant), to get through life. Bark does not have a happy marriage, to gallery-owner Simone who is the daughter of a detective (still alive), because he was caught out in an affair with a younger colleague years ago. Their son, Benjamin, suffers from von Willibrand's disease, and must be regularly injected by his father to help his blood to clot. I could continue but you will get the idea.

Bark's hypnosis provides some useful information but ultimately leads to more blood being spilled. The murder suspect, being treated in hospital, manages to escape and there is a kidnapping which turns out to be the crux of the novel.

The story races along in 110 short chapters, written from the perspective of various of the leading characters. There is also a middle section of almost 100 pages, "Ten Years Ago" narrated by Bark that explains his giving up hypnotism and introduces us to the group of severely damaged individuals that he was treating. I did not really believe these group hypnotism sessions, in which Bark believes he is under water ("I could feel lukewarm water washing over my skin. The big gray rock was covered with corals. The tentacles of their polyps were waving in the water"). Appropriately, quite a few red herrings are served up and cleared way. However, could there be a connection between what has happened now and ten years ago?

The book is an entertaining read although it could have been shortened if some of the scene setting and introduction of minor characters were excised; the sinister gang of teenage bullies named after Pokémon characters being a case in point. I am sure that they will not be in the film being made of the novel. If you like buckets of blood, dislocations and stabbings then this novel and film will certainly be for you.

The book was originally published in Sweden in 2009 to howls of acclaim and the English translation is the work of Ann Long who has done an excellent job. Apart from the snowy scenes and the long dark days of winter, the novel might be set anywhere in Europe.

The second mystery is who is/are "Lars Kepler"? We know they are a couple, which brings back memories of the Sjowall and Wahloo books about Martin Beck and his police colleagues, and, more recently, "Nicci French". In this case the husband-and-wife team, both authors in their own right, have been revealed as Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril, which having read the book strikes me as disturbing, who unsurprisingly have found their individual careers becalmed in the global furore about Lars Kepler.

This is an excellent page-turner, particularly good for the beach. Perhaps not the thing to read in A&E or whilst waiting for your counseling session.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling - a amateurish shaggy dog story with no pay off, 8 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Hypnotist (Kindle Edition)
I've never written an amazon review before, but I was so shocked by the unbelievably turdlike quality of this book I felt duty bound to write one in the vague hope that I might save another hapless reader the pain and tedium I've just gone through. Where to start? Let's face it, we're not looking for great characters in a thriller, but those that populate this book are so paper thin and feebly characterised you start rooting for one of the baddies to do away with them and end the torture. What you do expect, however, is a good plot. This book doesn't have one. It's a series of random ramblings, stuttering from one false start to another dead end, constantly teasing the reader that there might be something of interest around the corner. That corner never comes. Added to that, it's not remotely scary or suspenseful. The book is completely amateurish, padded out with an unlikely series of events (you couldn't really call it a plot), lurching from one irritating premise to another. So why has it done so well? I cannot imagine. Half a million copies sold in Sweden? Who to? Ten year olds? Maybe they gave the book away. It really feels like it. There's some marketing scam going on behind the success of this book that really makes me jealous. If they could hype up such non-entity of a product what couldn't the publishers put to their skills to? You'll notice there are glowing reviews on the back by newspapers as varied as the Daily Mail and The Independent. Don't believe a word of them. They must be all favours being repaid. At no point in this novel does it ever live up to the hyperbole and promise spluttered so effusively on the back. The puff pieces they are flogging it on are nothing more than a series of outrageous lies. And finally, the prose. Jesus Christ. It reads like it's been translated into Mongolian and back by an illiterate goat herd. The sentences are things a five year old would write. A ten year would be ashamed of them.

I've read a fair number of thriller writers in my time - Le Carre, Harlan Coben, Mo Hayder and the odd Jack Reacher novel. Some of those are not great literary fiction, but what they do have is a thrilling plot, and a payoff when you get to the end. The only payoff with this book is that you've finished the damn thing and you can be released from the drudgery of reading it. Do yourself a favour. Don't.
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The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (Paperback - 24 May 2012)
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