The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler suggests by its title that it may have something to do with the beautiful art of hypnosis. But if you are looking for a book to learn something about Hypnosis forget this one, if you are looking for a curl up under the duvet and shudder thriller, you’ve found it.
Well let’s get the first, and for me the most important thing, out of the way. This book has very little to do with real world workable hypnosis, hypnotists or anything you would recognise as the suggestive art. The hypnosis described in the book would be awkward even for a very old time hypnotherapist, and it turns out to be a disaster anyway.
If I didn’t know better I’d have suspected that the husband and wife team who authored the book knew nothing about the subject at all. Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for the writing team of Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. However I do know better, a little known fact is that Alexander is the brother of Sweden’s leading stage hypnotist, and good friend and student of mine, Fredrick Praesto. They really should have used him as a research source.
However getting over the books tenuous link to hypnosis let’s talk about the rest of the story. And one hell of a good story it is.
Usually, as someone who not only studies but is genuinely interested in the subconscious and the way it convolutes our lives, I can find at least one candidate for therapy in almost any book. Even some nonfiction personal development tomes have their share of candidates for sectioning. In The Hypnotist it’s harder to find anyone, other than bit players, who are even close to stable and sane. Stability isn’t the order of the day in a gloriously dark riot of neurosis, paranoia, psychosis and Schizoid personality disorders.
From the two central characters of an indurated police officer and a drug addicted Psychiatrist and failed hypnotist, to their manic psychotic adversaries, oh yes there’s more than one, through to their family and close relationships all well on the way to being as cracked as crazy paving. There is more screws loose here than in isle 7 at your a DIY warehouse in a New Zealand earthquake.
Having been lucky enough myself to have written for the stage, it’s obvious that this book’s short, snappy and cliff hanging scenes are written as much for the screen as for the reading room. A trick that’s usually hard to pull off but ‘Kepler’ makes it look easy.
Even though the book was originally penned in Swedish the translation was superb, even though it may have made the dialog a little minimalist, although one feels that it would be like that from the main protagonists anyway, and the street and town names made me run to google maps more than once.
The story is a twisting tornado of several plots which cross arms and run at you, but then separate at the last minute to leave the future DVD with a glut of potential alternate endings.
And none of those include hypnosis or the hypnotist who by that time has left the hypnotising behind and is just a father and Doctor who is as vulnerable as he has made his son and wife, and a police man who has confirmed that being hard is thee best defense.
I thought The Hypnotist was a scary, clever, and thoroughly enjoyable read. Even if it were less to do with hypnosis than a coven of NLPers.
Go buy it.