Let me start off by saying, the murder/mystery/detective/lawyer genre is not my fave. I don’t watch CSI, NYPD Blue, Bones, Murder and Company, any of that. But, I do know good books and this one was NOT GOOD!
The Goodreads synopsis: Tumba, Sweden. A triple homicide, all of the victims from the same family, captivates Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the grisly murders — against the wishes of the national police. The killer is at large, and it appears that the elder sister of the family escaped the carnage; it seems only a matter of time until she, too, is murdered. But where can Linna begin? The only surviving witness is an intended victim– the boy whose mother, father, and little sister were killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes intended for this boy to die: he has suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. He’s in no condition to be questioned. Desperate for information, Linna sees one mode of recourse: 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 had 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.
This all sounds like it will be quite interesting, right? Well, all of this happens in the first 20 – 30 pages of the book and then a whole other story emerges. Even for a book that was crap (in my opinion) the thing we all like about a mystery is that it needs to remain a mystery so I will try not to give too much away.
The murder scene is described in great detail and is quite gory (no problem). Then, you find out that he only killed the family in order to convince the girl he “wanted” to have sex with him (uh– ok?). There are some “shocking” sex details, graphic cursing and claims of revenge as the killer is revealed (I see where they are going– get some shock factor in there). Queue the escape of the killer, then… NOTHING!!! It seems that the story of the murder of a family and the decision to hypnotize the survivor of the attack was not a good enough concept to carry through an entire book– it is actually just the catalyst for the other story.
Once the killer escapes the “real” story of this book begins. The Hypnotist, Erik Maria Bank (they LOVE using his full name as much as humanly possible) takes centre stage as his family falls apart. His 15-year-old son, Benjamin, gets kidnapped under strange circumstances (his winey wife, Simone, is injected by a powerful anaesthetic while she is sleeping in her bed then Ben is taken out of his room by the kidnapper). Ben happens to have Von Willebrand disease, a rare blood disorder, and must take weekly injections in order for his blood to coagulate. This makes their time in which to rescue him limited. Simone, believes the only one that can help is her father, Kennet (surprise, surprise– he is an ex cop) but Erik would rather have Joona Linna (another who is referred to by first and last name way too often) take the case. Because they disagree she leaves him (well, that is not the only reason, Erik also slept with a nympho co-worker who was out to get his job about 10 years earlier– Simone holds a grudge but, so far, had stayed with him).
The investigations take up the majority of the book. In both camps the initial thought is that the escaped killer has kidnapped Ben– for revenge against the Hypnotist who discovered who he was and what he was after. But, all agreed that the timing was not right so they just leave it (WTH?). Kennet suspects a strange gang of children-of-the-corn-type kids who all go by Pokemon names. These kids have been giving Benjamin a hard time and they pick on his girlfriend’s brother who is mentally disabled. One of them pushes Kennet into a moving car so he ends up in the hospital (investigation over). In this part there is (really and truly) a very long discussion about Pokemon characters and their attributes (so weird!). I am still baffled by this inclusion and not sure how that all fit into the story– but there it was! I now know that Wailord is the most powerful Pokemon out there! This is him in case you wanted to know:
Meanwhile, Joona Linna and Erik Maria Bank focus their suspicion on one of Erik’s ex-patients, Eva Blau (full name please). A long flashback sequence occurs regarding Erik’s past as a hypno-therapist. A bizarro cast of characters from group therapy are introduced including Eva Blau, who ends up getting the tip of her nose cut off (what?). The flashback sequence ends up being so long that you totally forget where you were in the present day– not a good flow at all. (The perspective and tense also changes in this flashback– from third person, present to first person, past– and that makes things very disjointed. Perhaps this is a “Lost in Translation” issue??)
Time is running out for Benjamin and Simone is upset so she decides to sleep with an artist (Sim Shulman) at the gallery she owns. After the sex takes place she takes a shower and comes out to find that the killer is in their house and has stabbed Sim but not before he takes a phone call from Benjamin on Simone’s cell phone. The killer thinks that Sim is Erik so he is so happy that he got his revenge on that damned Hypnotist. He brings along the girl that prompted the murder of the family (even though she was supposed to be under police protection) and informs her they will have sex as soon as he kills Simone. The girl diverts his attention and Simone escapes. I think that she even kills him but it is unclear. Guess it is one of those lost points to just file in the “guess I’ll never know” file!!
Sim does not die, but he is going to and they really need to talk to him because they cannot trace the call from Ben. Luckily, Erik knows of a strong drug that they can inject him with that will revive him for only a minute or two and he happens to have access to it. Success! Sim gives them about three lucid sentences from which they learn that Benjamin is in the north country– now they can go to his rescue. Simone and Erik make up so they (along with Joona Linna) can make their way north to the land of the Sumi people. On the drive up and after talking to Simone Erik realizes that it is not Eva Blau that they are looking for after all. Ta-dah!! They figured it out!!!
Like all good murder/mystery type novels it all ends with a big showdown between the heroes and the kidnapper and guess who comes out bloody but victorious right in the nick of time with only pages to spare? Yep! You guessed it! The Bark family, happily reunited, needs to spend some time in the hospital recovering from their battle wounds but they are released in time to celebrate Christmas together. They go for Christmas dinner at McDonald’s and, ha ha ha, Benjamin gets a Happy Meal toy as his gift (??). The End.
Don’t buy into the hype! Get off the Swedish Bandwagon! This ain’t no Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, not even close. True, I did read it in a matter of one weekend but it was more to see where the heck it was going to go next! Lots of stuff left unresolved. I could not WAIT to finish this book so that it would be over. 1.5 stars.