Synopses & Reviews
In This Spellbinding International Bestseller, a Murder Leaves Only One Route to the Killer Tumba, Sweden. A triple homicide, all the victims from the same family, captivates Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the grisly murdersagainst the wishes of the national police. The killer is at large, and it appears that the elder sister of the family escaped the carnage; it seems only a matter of time until she, too, is murdered. But where can Linna begin? The only surviving witness is an intended victimthe boy whose mother, father, and little sister were killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes intended for this boy to die: he has suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Hes in no condition to be questioned. Desperate for information, Linna sees one mode of recourse: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes. Its the sort of work that Bark had sworn he would never do againethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl. A number-one bestselling international sensation sure to please fans of Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, The Hypnotist is the first novel in a series, soon to be published in thirty-three countries. With its pulse-pounding hooks and twists, it announces a stirring new contribution to the annals of crime fiction.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction book for 2011One 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 theres only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: hes 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. Its 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 its been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now its Americas 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.
A New York Times Bestseller
In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, Detective Inspector Joona Linna has been assigned to a gruesome triple homicide. The killer is still at large, and theres only one surviving witness---the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. With one hundred knife wounds on his body, the boy lies in a state of shock, scared into silence. Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes. Its 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.
About 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 forthcoming film version of The Hypnotist is directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules).
Reading Group Guide
1. At first, what did your instincts tell you about the murder of Josefs family? What were your initial theories?
2. In chapter 17, Erik says that patients always tell the truth under hypnosis, but that their perception of what is true might be skewed. Did you believe that Josefs memories were accurate? Has your family ever disagreed about the accuracy of your memories, especially as they relate to blame and fate?
3. Lydia is just one of several powerful sadists featured in The Hypnotist. What is the source of her power over others? What separates fear from courage in this novel?
4. What accounts for the tremendous differences between Evelyn and Josef? What does their story tell us about nature and nurture, and about rage and the rational mind?
5. What was Erik hungry for when he began his flirtation with Maja? Would you have stayed married to him if you had been Simone?
6. Who is better at predicting human behavior: law enforcer Joona or therapist Erik?
7. How might the Bark family have been described from Benjamins point of view? What forges the bond between him and his girlfriend, Aida? Are they refugees from a similar type of insecurity?
8. Discuss the structure of the novel. How was your reading affected by the short, cinematic chapters, told almost entirely in the present tense? How did the voice shift when Erik began narrating his own memories in the chapter called “Ten Years Ago,” between chapters 74 and 75?
9. How did Kennet influence Simones expectations of the world, and of her husband? How does Kennets approach to fatherhood compare to Eriks?
10. Is Eva evil or simply self-obsessed? How did your opinion of her change throughout the novel?
11. The closing scene shows Eriks family transformed. Without the terrifying kidnapping, would they have ever learned to trust one another again? Why did the roots of their unhappiness run so deep?
12. How does the Scandinavian landscape of The Hypnotist (and of other bestselling crime novels from that part of the world) set the ideal tone for intense, suspenseful tales?
13. What does the novel say about the nature of cruelty? Where is the line drawn between mental illness (in some cases resulting from abuse) and a purely criminal mind? Ultimately, what did the killers in The Hypnotist want from their victims?
14. The identity of “Lars Kepler” was revealed before the U.S. publication of The Hypnotist. How did it affect your reading to know that these scenes were created by a husband-and-wife team?
Guide written by Amy Clements / The Wordshop, Inc.