Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Hypnotist - Lars Kepler


The latest entry in the 'new Stieg Larsson' stakes is Lars Kepler (Swedish husband and wife collaborators Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril).  Actually, I think this debut is more impressive, albeit it would never have got translated had it not been for the late Larsson.  There are several stories here, cleverly intertwined.  There is a charismatic detective, Joona Linna, but the real protagonist is the eponymous medical hypnotist Erik Maria Bark.

The various storylines give the novel multiple layers.  Topics include Pokemon, the native Finnish Sami culture, and historic cuts to the Swedish psychiatric care system.  The authors seem knowledgable.  If they are making up the 'facts' they do it well.  There are no bum notes.

The plot twists and turns and positively contorts at times.  The reader is gently led to several possible culprits only to have expectations summarily overturned.  Most of the book is present tense.  Flashbacks are past tense.  A movie-like structure of short, sharp scenes prevails for the most part (Lasse Hallstrom is making the movie version, thankfully in Swedish), but then there comes a huge chapter of what seems like pure exposition.  The reader wonders, is this really necessary?  Oh yes, the reader realises when the final denouement rolls out.

Cracking debut.  I'm sure more Kepler novels will follow.  The more the merrier for me.

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