All I can say is that the Swedes sure know how to write thrilling (and somewhat disturbing) murder mystery novels. After the brilliant success of The Millennium Trilogy by Stiegg Larsson, it seems like we’ve had a steady stream of murder mystery novels in translation being released in the states. The Hypnotist is written by a duo of Swedish writers and it is, if nothing else, disturbing. You have a serial killer who hacks apart his victims and is driven by a single handed determination to destroy in a frighteningly methodical way, and a hypnotist who is somewhat likable and sympathetic, but not really. My real question is what gets lost in the translation. I think the biggest struggle I had with this novel is the writing style – and I’m not sure how much of that has to do with the original authors and how much of that has to do with the translation of the text. There were sentences that just didn’t flow properly (at least to my ear). There were also key plot points that I felt were left unexplained, which I will not go into here (because there’s nothing worst than spoiling a murder mystery).
This book begins with a call to Erik Bark, a former hypnotist who has given up the profession due to something that happened in his past. A family has been brutally murdered – hacked to pieces in fact, but there is a lone survivor – a teenage boy. Detective Joona Lina, the officer on the case, begs Erik to hypnotize the boy, who is in critical condition, in order to find out what happened and get vital clues to the vicious homicides and the location of the one remaining family member – a sister who has gone missing.
Throughout the novel, sad to say, I was more interested in Erik’s past, and what drove him to give up hypnosis, than the actual crime itself. There are, however, the requisite twists and turns – with a surprising twist in the murder investigations that you will have to wait and read about if you decide to pick up this book. Many compare this murder mystery novel with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, siding with one or the other. If I had to pick, I would be staunchly on team Millennium Trilogy.