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June 30, 2011 / schulerbooks

The Hypnotist, by Lars Kepler

A pair of truly gruesome crimes, leaving a family almost-entirely dead.

A survivor in horrible shape, who may hold the key to finding out what happened, and the whereabouts of another, missing member.

A bedraggled police detective who doesn’t know when or how to stop looking for answers.

A fateful decision to call in a doctor who was once an expert hypnotist, in order to get the truth from the weakened witness.

A tragedy from ten years ago, leading to a solemn vow to never use hypnosis again.

Another fateful decision to break that promise, in spite of all consequences to health and home.

A chilling discovery about what happened at the crime scene, and who did it.

A violent and seemingly impossible disappearance, shortly thereafter…

These eight things are all I want to tell you about The Hypnotist. Not because I don’t feel like reviewing the book any further, but because this stunning work lives by its ability to twist and turn our assumptions — and suspicions — with the hairpin regularity of a shaky, old roller coaster. That and truly shock and surprise, which is something that is genuinely hard to do in crime fiction.

Bloody and gory, but with a lot of heartfelt emotion and a good eye for people’s inner workings and dumb mistakes, The Hypnotist gets its fishhook under your chin very early and does not release you until the end. If you thought the Swedish mystery scene was just going to be “Dragon Tattoo” clones from now until kingdom come, think again.

“Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for a literary couple who live in Sweden,” says the author blurb. After you’ve read The Hypnotist, you’ll be wanting this couple’s next collaboration in your hands as soon as it’s available.

– Reviewed by Jim Tremlett, Eastwood

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