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Book Cover Image: The Hypnotist by M. J. RoseTitle: The Hypnotist (The Reincarnationist #03)

Author: M. J. Rose

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “An FBI agent, tormented by a death he wasn’t able to prevent, a crime he’s never been able to solve and a love he’s never forgotten, discovers that his true conflict resides not in his past, but in a…Past Life.

Haunted by a twenty-year-old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a Special Agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation — dedicated to the science of past life study — where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.

Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to 19th century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history: the theft of a 1,500-year-old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

Thoughts: In the interest of full disclosure, I did read this book without having read any of the previous books in the Reincarnationist series. While I know that there were some parts of the entire story that may have been more clear had I read the first two books, I do not think that my lack of knowledge in any way influenced my opinion of The Hypnotist.

I did enjoy The Hypnotist. It was the second reincarnation book I read within a week, and I remain fascinated by this idea of past lives coming back to haunt us and the very literal idea of history repeating itself. The interconnections and the story drove me to read, while the building tension throughout the novel was intense at times. Add to that the fact that the story is complex enough to leave the reader guessing, and The Hypnotist becomes a clever but quirky thriller.

Unfortunately, the multiple characters became difficult to follow, especially when added to the characters in the past. Three different stories/mysteries occurring at the same time became quite confusing. In addition, the resolution of all three was somewhat anti-climatic. There was great build-up, but the end of each story line fizzled. In a similar vein, the characters were rather one-dimensional, almost caricatures of their real-life counterparts: the tortured, passionate, artistic good guy, the evil entrepreneur who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, the mysterious love interest with a shady past, a shadow government getting involved where it should not. As a result, the reader is unable to generate a vested interest in any one character, which greatly detracts from the story.

In the end, The Hypnotist was enjoyable but left me wanting more. I’m left confused why anyone would want to know more about his or her past lives. What is to gain by the knowledge? Still, as with any reincarnation story, the possibilities behind this idea are intriguing. It was these possibilities that kept me interested and allowed me to take pleasure from the story rather than become bogged down with the more obfuscating aspects of The Hypnotist.

I’m curious; if you have read either the first or the second novel, do you think my enjoyment of the story would have been even greater? Should this really have been a stand-alone novel? What do you think?

Thank you to NetGalley for my review copy!

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