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The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist

3.6 278
by Lars Kepler

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A Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction book for 2011
One of the Wall Street Journal's Top 10 Mysteries of the Year 2011

Prepare for The Hypnotist to cast its spell

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders.


A Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction book for 2011
One of the Wall Street Journal's Top 10 Mysteries of the Year 2011

Prepare for The Hypnotist to cast its spell

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there's only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he's suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It's the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it's been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it's America's turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
The Swedish novel The Hypnotist…arrives on these shores as the latest contender in the "next Stieg Larsson" sweepstakes. I doubt that it will sell as outrageously as Larsson's Millennium trilogy…but it's a worthy contender: a serious, disturbing, highly readable novel that is finally a meditation on evil.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The brutal slaying of gambling addict Anders Ek, his wife, and his younger daughter propels this outstanding thriller debut from the pseudonymous Kepler (a Swedish literary couple), introducing Stockholm detective Joona Linna. Only Ek's 15-year-old son, Josef, left for dead at his parents' house, survives. Realizing that the vicious killer is likely to also target an older daughter no longer living at home, Linna asks Erik Maria Bark, a trauma physician who practiced hypnosis before being banned from using the technique 10 years earlier, to hypnotize the seriously injured Josef in the hospital. When Josef later escapes from the hospital and Bark's teenage son, Benjamin, is kidnapped, the ensuing frantic search raises the ante. Flashbacks to Bark's hypnosis therapy group reveal that one patient became suicidal in the course of revisiting her past. A well-integrated subplot involving a gang of terrifying boys and girls adds to the suspense. Readers will look forward to seeing more of Linna in what one hopes will be a long series. (July)
From the Publisher

“The summer's likeliest new Nordic hit.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“One convincing psychotic is about as much as most thriller writers can handle, but Kepler delivers them by the roomful. It makes you wonder where the Swedes have been keeping him/them all this time. I imagine a cabal of nefarious Stockholm publishers loading bulk orders of Larsson onto cargo planes bound for the U.S. while they rub their hands together over a copy of The Hypnotist stamped Not for Export. It's that good. It's the hard stuff.” —Lev Grossman, Time

“A worthy addition to the ever-expanding ranks of Scandinavian crime fiction. Expect caffeinated beverages, inclement weather, and severed limbs.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Maximum intensity, both psychological and physical, is packed into [this] story.” —New York

“A gripping series of twists and turns . . . a natural successor to the Stieg Larsson series.” —Parade

“Full of surprises and more than enough twists to keep those pages turning well into the night.” —NPR.com

“A new star enters the firmament of Scandinavian thrillerdom, joining the likes of Larsson, Nesbø and Mankell.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Does the world really need another Swedish thriller? The spellbinding exploits of Detective Inspector Joona Linna and the hypnotist he hires to solve a murder make the answer clear.” —People

“Outrageously entertaining . . . Kepler makes you feel that if homicidal maniacs really were to start popping up in Stockholm, this is exactly how it would play out.” —Laura Miller, Salon.com

“If The Hypnotist doesn't find its way onto every reader's ‘Best Of' list by the end of the year, it will only be because not everyone read it. Don't be one of the unfortunate few. But put on an extra sweater while you are reading; this one will chill you to the bone.” —Bookreporter.com

“The brutal slaying of gambling addict Anders Ek, his wife, and his younger daughter propels this outstanding thriller debut . . . A well-integrated subplot involving a gang of terrifying boys and girls adds to the suspense. Readers will look forward to seeing more of Linna in what one hopes will be a long series.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Compellingly grisly.” —Megan O'Grady, Vogue

“All the hallmarks of a classic . . . Tense, clever and multilayered . . . This is crime writing at its most devilishly involving.” —Marie Claire (UK)

“This is the thriller that's taking Europe by storm. Written by a Swedish husband-and-wife team whose identity was originally a closely guarded secret, it might just be the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo . . . Ferocious, visceral storytelling that wraps you in a cloak of darkness that almost blots out the light, but still feeds the imagination: stunning.” —The Daily Mail (UK)

“If the post-Stieg Larsson boom was ebbing, Kepler promises to revitalize the genre by bringing a sulphurous whiff of Hannibal Lecter to this case . . . It's a pulse-pounding debut that is already a native smash.” —Financial Times

“Now ranks second only to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy in terms of worldwide sales for a Swedish author . . . Far more energetic than Henning Mankell, as socially involved as Larsson but a better writer, Kepler matches the great Jo Nesbø for gothic excitement.” —The Australian

“Belongs on every international crime fan's reading list.” —Booklist

“If you don't get carried away by this book, the question is whether you like the crime thriller genre at all.” —Børsen (Denmark)

“Brilliant, well-written and very satisfying. A superb thriller.” —De Telegraaf (The Netherlands)

The Hypnotist is a rare beast: a Swedish thriller on a high international level with a smart, effective and surprising plot. The narrative has a skillful, refined, pulsating drive and the writing is sharp, convincing and multilayered.” —Kristianstadsbladet (Sweden)

The Hypnotist is--yes--impossible to put down. The Hypnotist is--yes--ingeniously put together, like a Swiss watch. The Hypnotist is--Yes!--fabulously entertaining, even gruesomely so. But it is also a serious meditation on evil, human weakness, the infinity of the mind, and the capriciousness of fate. My wife stole it from me before I was finished reading it and tore through it. Then I stole it back, to my great pleasure!” —Colin Harrison, author of The Finder

“Soon there will be Stieg Larsson crime fiction people and Lars Kepler crime fiction people. I'm henceforth in the latter camp. The Hypnotist is every bit the equal of the Millennium Trilogy--riveting narrative momentum, fascinatingly grisly forensics, existential Nordic dread. But there's more: superior prose, no cartoony characters, and beneath all the noir, plenty of old-fashioned heart.” —Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday

Library Journal
In the Stockholm suburb of Tumba, a family has been found brutally butchered. The only survivor, a 15-year-old boy who suffered more than 100 knife wounds, is in a state of shock. Desperate to identify the killer before there is another murder, homicide detective Joona Linna asks Erik Maria Bark, a doctor specializing in trauma, to hypnotize the victim. Having a decade ago given up the practice of hypnosis, Bark complies reluctantly, unwittingly setting off a chain of violent events that climax at a lakeside cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Already a best seller in Europe and scheduled to be filmed by director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules), this smart, unpredictable thriller by a pseudonymous Swedish literary couple features an intriguing premise, plenty of cinematic action and twists, and an appropriately chilly and gothic Nordic atmosphere. VERDICT While Kepler's protagonists lack Lisbeth Salander's charisma and the loose ends are too neatly tied up, the high-octane plot will capture readers bored by Stieg Larsson's sometimes glacial social and political asides. Be aware that some readers may confuse this with M.J. Rose's reincarnation thriller of the same title. [Library marketing; see Prepub Alert, 1/10/11.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews

A new star enters the firmament of Scandinavian thrillerdom, joining the likes of Larsson, Nesbø and Mankell.

Kepler, a pseudonym for what the publisher describes as "a literary couple who live in Sweden," continues in the Stygian—or, better, Stiegian—tradition of unveiling the dark rivers that swirl under the seemingly placid and pacific Nordic exterior. Scarcely has the novel opened when we find a scene of extreme mayhem: A schoolteacher and his librarian wife, pillars of their small Stockholm-area community, have been savagely butchered, and their young daughter, too, with a teenage son sliced to ribbons and left for dead. Enter Erik Maria Bark, a therapist and hypnotist called onto the scene by the supervising physician and a world-weary (naturally) police investigator, Joona Linna, who theorizes that the killer had waited for the father, a soccer referee in his off hours, hacked him into pieces, then headed to his house to dispatch the rest of the family, suggesting at least some acquaintance. "It happened in that order?" asks Bark, ever methodical, to which Linna responds, "In my opinion."Both men are guarded, for both have been wounded in the past, and both are fighting battles of their own in the present. Their psychic conflicts are nothing compared to those that rage through the scissors- and knife-wielding types they encounter in trying to get to the bottom of the crime, which takes them across miles and years. Kepler handles a complex plot assuredly, though the momentary switch from third- to first-person narration in midstream, as well as the shifts forward and backward in time, may induce whiplash. (They're for a good reason.) Linna and Bark make a great crime-solving pair precisely because they puzzle each other so thoroughly—says Bark, for instance, "The patient always speaks the truth under hypnosis. But it's only a matter of what he himself perceives as the truth." To which Linna responds, "What is it you're trying to say?" Indeed.

What Bark is trying to say is that there are monsters hiding everywhere beneath the reasonable and rational, and Kepler's book makes for a satisfying and scary testimonial.

Product Details

Blue Door
Publication date:
Detective Inspector Joona Linna

Meet the Author

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym for a literary couple who live and write in Sweden. Their novels, including The Nightmare and The Hypnotist, have been number-one bestsellers in more than a dozen countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, and Denmark. The film version of The Hypnotist is directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules).

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The Hypnotist 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 278 reviews.
AJAR More than 1 year ago
Picture opening the cover then being in the climax of the story! That's what you get in the Hypnotist. Raw emotion, courage, mayhem and that's all in chapter one.. so keep reading I wait up for you, because I have'nt slept in days any way....
CasperAZ More than 1 year ago
Erik Maria Bark and Joona Linna are the two protagonists in this exciting murder/kidnapping potpourri of a novel. Erik is the doctor who is a hypnosis specialist and Joona Linna is the detective who dedicates himself to solving the murder/kidnapping mystery. This book is 477 pages, so, it's a pregnant novel. This novel begins with a gruesome murder in Tumba, Sweden involving the Ek family. The father was murdered in the gym locker room and the killer murdered the mother and daughter at their home. The little five year old daughter had her body severed. The slaughter of the Ek family was gruesome. The 15 year old son, Josef Ek, survived about 100 knife wounds but lives. There is later a kidnapping involving the son of Erik and Simone Bark, Benjamin. Benjamin suffers from a rare blood disorder and his parents are in a frenzy to find the kidnapper. "The Hypnotist" is a hard core thriller and the book does not let up on the suspense. You will be in a race to finish the ending. I read this book in two days!
Dukewife More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. So much easier to read than "The Girl Who" books (and I adored them). Swedish thriller/crime authors are great and this book had the perfect mix of everything a good thriller should have. Twists and turns, just when you think you've figured it out, you find out you're wrong! Finished it in one day, couldn't put it down.
Stephanie_Ward More than 1 year ago
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler is a bestselling novel of suspense set in Sweden. The story revolves around Detective Joona Linna and Dr. Erik Maria Bark and his wife and son. Early in the book, a triple homicide is discovered and there is one surviving witness. However, the boy has suffered severe trauma and is in a state of shock. Linna convinces Dr. Bark to hypnotize the boy in order to find the murderer before he strikes again. Dr. Bark has sworn never to practice hypnosis again, but eventually agrees in the hopes of saving a young woman's life. When Dr. Bark breaks his promise and they hypnotize the boy, a chain of terrifying events begins to take place. This novel has joined the ranks of bestselling crime novels from Scandinavia. I found that the plot of the story had great potential but the writing was lacking. It felt like the book was just dragging along. I lost interest early on, but continued reading in the hopes that the storyline would begin to pick up. It did eventually, but not to the point I had hoped. The characters of Joona Linna, Erik Maria Bark, Simone, and the other major players were well developed, but some aspects left the reader asking questions. For example, the reader learns early on that Linna is a driven detective that will not let a case go unsolved. The reason behind this is a sense of personal guilt over something that happened in his past, but the reader never gets to find out what that secret is. Other aspects of the writing were lacking as well. The plot of the novel was interesting but the way the story unfolded was very predictable and all of the "twists" were able to be foreseen. The ending of the story is also lacking - it does not give the reader any type of closure. It leaves the characters and their relationships with one another in limbo with no resolution. I found this novel to be mediocre at best. The plot definitely had potential, but the writing was lacking and the book could have been so much more. I bought this book after reading the other reviews and the description, but I wish I would have saved my money for something worthwhile. This is a book worth reading for fun and for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction such as Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, but I would recommend that you borrow it and not waste your time and money buying it.
kimiko56 More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of police/detective mysteries, and this one had me interested from the beginning. Unfortunately I could not overlook several logical flaws that I came across. The most annoying was the bizarre behavior of the retired policeman father-in-law of the protagonist who not only decided to do his own investigation without the help of those already involved but also to include his daughter in several incredibly dangerous situations. This along with a couple of others had me disengaged by the end. Stieg Larsson's writing is superior by far.
cy-12_34 More than 1 year ago
Tiresome and boring with terribly drawn characters and the dumbest police detective I have ever seen. After "The Man from Beijing," the tattooed girl trilogy, "The Snowman" and now "The Hypnotist" I am swearing off all Scandinavian writers. Scandinavians must all be psycho homicidal nut-cases.
lioness2001 More than 1 year ago
For the sake of others who have not read the book, would the reviewers please not describe everything that happens??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Swedish mystery writers for their ability to tell a gory tale without asking us to wallow in the blood and sex for the entire book, a talent which a lot of American authors either do not possess or their publishers think will not sell books. We need to use our imaginations more and not be so influenced by TV and video games. Europeans, in general, I think have a better handle on this. Good book. Recommend.
marie newell More than 1 year ago
This book is the best mystery book I have ever read! I am a good predictor but this book has baffled me every time because there are so many mysteries that keep you sitting on the edge. I have even been so anxious I wanted to pull over when driving and continue. I love reading on my Nook because it enables me to look up definitions as I read. I hate I can not share as you can a book! This book would make an excellent movie. You will defintely want to research von williebrand disease before reading....or not! Marie of Florida
drb123 More than 1 year ago
If you like a fast moving action packed mystery, like Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole or Lee Child's Jack Reacher, you won't find it within the Hypnotist. This book is twice the length necessary to make it a good story, instead, the authors chose to use lots of fluff and filler. Not the worst book I've read and certainly not the best either.
CorinaFL More than 1 year ago
This book starts as a thriller becomes a mystery and through twists and turns reverts back to being a thriller. It kept me interested even though some of it seemed farfetched and contrived. Definitely not as good as "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" and the other two. This author is not as talented, but writes well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to follow at times! Characters were not well developed! I almost quit two thirds of the way through this book.
Jennifer Fox More than 1 year ago
At first the book really had my attention. Got very long and confusing, the pokemon part was not the least bit interesting. I wish this were a lend me book so another reader would not have to purchase it.
Carrie Thompson More than 1 year ago
Started it on a cross-country flight yesterday, had to finish it today.
Michael Castelli More than 1 year ago
Could have told the story with about 200 less words. There were a few times where i almost stopped but not a bad story.
Barbersville More than 1 year ago
To compare this book with the Stieg Larsson trilogy is to insult the late Mr. Larsson. The story line was poorly constructed and delivered without a consistent thread. It was as if there were two writers who were compiling their singular versions of the same story into one somewhat haphazard format. Wait! There are two writers responsible for this mess. Well, that explains it. There are plenty of good books out there; this is just not one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Personally, I am sorry the critics compared these authors to Steig Larsson and Roslund and Hellstrom in order to sell the book. What starts out as a strong read dwindles into every character and every subplot having the same sexual references applied to them. For me, it was like the authors were stuck on two or three words that they just couldn't get off of. Sad and Disappointing. Anonymous
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much background info when all i wanted was a good crime novel.
NookSwami More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book started well, but then rapidly went down hill. The characters who appear at the beginning, and who the story appears to be about  suddenly disappear and we then enter a very long story about the life of the hypnotist.. When we actually get bck to what the story is originally about (the characters and their dramatic lives who appear at the begiining of the book) I had completely forgotten all about them. The book is the work of two authors and that may be why the story is so fragmented and poorly strung together. 
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