Blue Door, £16.99 Order for £15.29 (free p&p)from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Hypnotist, By Lars Kepler
Entranced by a genuine chiller
Tuesday 24 May 2011
There were those who felt that the writer "Lars Kepler" was notably overhyped in Sweden ahead of this debut crime-fiction novel. The concealing pseudonym became a major news story. Just who was the mysterious Kepler? After the publication of The Hypnotist – which enjoyed acclaim and bestseller status in Sweden – local media inaugurated a frantic search for the enigmatic author. It was subsequently revealed that "he" was a husband-and-wife team, both hitherto literary authors, writing in tandem: Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril. Unveiled and pressing the flesh in London, the two Alexes turned out to be a charming couple who admit that their "serious" careers have stalled since the Frankenstein's monster that is Mr Kepler entered their lives.
The sobriquet "the next Stieg Larsson" is again being thrown about in connection with Lars Kepler. But can Lars cut the mustard? Just a few pages of The Hypnotist (in Ann Long's translation) quickly puts paid to the accusation of hype; this is commanding, and deeply scarifying stuff.
As in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, an entire family has been savagely murdered. The one surviving witness, the teenage son, has been traumatised, and cannot be asked about the killings. The strong-minded Detective Inspector Joona Linna persuades Erik Bark, a retired hypnotist, to enter the dark recesses of the boy Josef's damaged consciousness – and it soon becomes apparent that Josef played a markedly different role in the slaughter than originally believed. Soon, the reader is in very disturbing territory indeed.
The Hypnotist is set in Sweden, but the characters, the dilemmas and the unsettling murder case are universal. The book is essentially about the influence of family bonds, which carry both positive and destructive elements; this theme is provocatively explored, and there is a kinetic, filmic quality to the book, perhaps springing from the fact that the duo's inspiration is actually film rather than the written word.
The Hypnotist attempts to transfer a cinematic tempo to the novel form, utilising the filmic present tense and injecting a visually-oriented dynamic into every scene. These techniques are used to deepen the reader's relationship with the headstrong Joona Linna. Far from showing signs of exhaustion, the Scandinavian bandwagon seems to be building up a new head of steam.
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
Hitler painting sells for 130,000 euros at auction despite controversy over Nazi dictator's artworks
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall sent home after dance off with Sunetra Sarker
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked clip of Lana Del Rey rape video
Band Aid 30: 'Do They Know It's Christmas' storms to number one
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'