Wednesday, August 1, 2012

THE HYPNOTIST by Lars Kepler

Here's another violent Swedish thriller, but I didn’t find it to be of the same caliber as the Stieg Larsson trilogy.  The first half was very promising, with two possibly related crimes.  One is a spree in which an entire family is murdered, except a teenage son, Josef, who survives the rampage, and an older daughter who had moved away.  Detective Joona Linna enlists the assistance of Dr. Eric Maria Bark in gleaning information from Josef by hypnosis, despite Bark's decade-old vow never to hypnotize a patient again.  Then someone kidnaps Bark's teenage son Benjamin, while Bark is in a drug-induced sleep.  So far so good.  Could Benjamin's abduction have been plotted by a gang whose members name themselves after Pokemon characters?  Or by Josef, who is angry at Bark for having hypnotized him?  Or by one of Bark's deranged ex-patients?  The plot temporarily derails during a rather long section in which Bark recounts the incidents that led up to his vow to stop hypnotizing.  He had been performing group therapy on several patients who relived traumatic events via hypnosis, in order to confront and thus thwart their inner demons.  This section drags on, and then we finally get back to the present-day crime-solving efforts, prompting Bark's wife Simone to remark, "Everything takes such a bloody long time."  My sentiments exactly.

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