(Book 3 of the Reincarnationist series)
Publication Date: May 2010 (hardcover); April 2011 (paperback)
Source: I received a free hardcover review copy to participate in this Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Book Description (from the publisher):
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 nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the 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.
International bestselling author M. J. Rose's The Hypnotist is her most mesmerizing novel yet. An adventure, a love story, a clash of cultures, a spiritual quest, it is above all a thrilling capstone to her unique Reincarnationist novels, The Reincarnationist and The Memorist.
The Hypnotist is a suspenseful thriller that has a wide array of exciting elements: stolen artwork held for ransom, an ancient statue with a shady past and intriguing mythology, covert operations by the FBI, Iranian spies and terrorists, murder, and underneath it all the supernatural possibility that some of the people involved are connected through their past lives. To me, The Hypnotist reminded me a lot of a Dan Brown-type of thriller, where historical artifacts are more than what they seem and people are so determined to acquire them that they will kill to get them if necessary. The difference, though, is that M.J. Rose's characters are deeper and more interesting--the reader gets to know their backgrounds and feelings better, and that makes a big difference in being able to connect with the characters. They are also complicated people, with conflicting motives and not always easy to predict.
I mentioned above that the book raises the possibility of reincarnation, and much of the action centers on the hunt for "Memory Tools" which would help people to reach the deep meditation needed to access past-life memories. At times the reincarnation thread of the story could be a bit heavy on the supernatural for my taste, but there are points where some of the characters in the story debate whether what they're experiencing is truly evidence of reincarnation or something else. One of the prominent characters in the book was Dr. Malachi Samuels, a therapist who works with children on past lives and is highly motivated to find the Memory Tools. He was an especially interesting character because I had a hard time pinning down whether he was on the good side or the bad side until the end of the novel.
Regardless of my own views on reincarnation (I don't believe in it), the suspense and intrigue kept me guessing and the characters were believably complex. For some reason I struggled a little in the beginning keeping the characters straight in my head, but the second half of the book really kept me turning the pages. I recommend this book to thriller fans who find the possibility of past lives to be an interesting topic.
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