Synopses & Reviews
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: 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.
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 its 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.
“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 New York Times
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.