Friday, July 01, 2011

Scandinavian Crime Fiction: Lars Kepler, THE HYPNOTIST

UK cover
US cover
I'll keep this one short, because THE HYPNOTIST has already garnered huge and enthusiastic reviews, and is being heavily promoted by publisher Farrar Strauss Giroux -- you may already have seen expensive, splashy ads for the book.

Good news: It's terrific. Already a hit in Europe, it's written by the husband-and-wife team Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril under the pseudonym ''Lars Kepler" (they had to reveal themselves, because readers kept trying to attribute the book to other stellar Scandinavian writers). The authors live in Sweden, and most of the action of the book takes place in cities and suburbs there. Haunting and violent, it has two absorbing characters: psychologist Dr. Erik Maria Bark, whose extraordinary skills with hypnosis are somehow entangled in the erupting crimes; and Detective Inspector Joona Linna, a man whose gentleness in person is a startling contrast to his aggressive pursuit of criminals, insistence on running and solving cases his own way, and self-protection skills.

The thriller opens with the bloody murder of an entire family -- well, not quite. There appears to have been one survivor, Josef Ek, and Joona Linna calls in Dr. Bark for a desperate chance at getting a clue from the wounded but possibly responsive boy.

And that's the turning point, the shot that starts the action and disasters, in barely the first chapter. 

This is a scary one; the blood, death, abuse, and threat are all too real. Keep the lights on, by all means, and check the locks. But oh my gosh, what a read.

"Lars Kepler"
Even better news: The sequel's already been published in Europe. I'm hoping it's already being (or been) translated by Ann Long, who handled this first one. For an interesting perspective on the books and authors, check out the Nordic Bookblog.

1 comment:

Kris said...

the nordic do have a way w/ the noir