Monday, August 02, 2010
"Reincarnation is believed to occur when the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, comes back to Earth in a newborn body. This phenomenon is also known as transmigration of the soul." Special Agent Lucian Glass, a member of the FBI's Art Crime Team, is called in to investigate when a Matisse painting is shredded by a madman who holds hostage several other priceless pieces of art he threatens to destroy unless he is given a statue of the god Hypnos that is currently being restored at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Matisse painting has a special, if painful, significance for Agent Glass as he was almost killed when the painting was originally stolen 20 years ago. Malachai Samuels has made it his life's work to prove that reincarnation is an actual, provable phenomenon. As head of the Phoenix Foundation he uses hypnosis to guide patients into past-life regressions. But it isn't his work with his patients that drives him as much as his search for historical items known as Memory Tools that help people access past life memories. So driven is Samuels that theft and murder are no boundaries to gaining access to the Memory Tools and his quest for them has put him in the path of Agent Glass several times in the past and current events at the Metropolitan Museum somehow have a strange importance for both men. "The Hypnotist," the third book in M. J. Rose's Reincarnationist series, is a complex, sometimes convoluted, book that can be read as a stand-alone novel. The characters of Glass and Samuels have a history and the storylines of the characters only tangentially intersect here as Glass continues an investigation into Samuels criminal activities that had been started earlier in the series. The real focus of this particular book is the history of the statue of Hypnos and how it figures into the past lives of several main characters and its connection to the Memory Tools that Samuels seeks. "The Hypnotist" is a hard book to summarize because it has several threads that overlap but don't fully come to fruition but rather act as a set-up for the next book in the series. In fact Glass and Samuels don't share much common ground even though they are meant to be antagonists throughout the story. The book shifts from past life regressions related to the statue of Hypnos to the intrigues of various governments all claiming ownership of the statue. Sometimes it's hard to know what "The Hypnotist" is trying to be. Is the book trying to be a Dan Brown-style thriller? A romantic fantasy? Or an exploration of reincarnation? Rose incorporates all of those elements into "The Hypnotist" with varying degrees of success. The segments involving reincarnation are the most interesting and well developed aspect of the book, but the suspense never feels as if it's fully realized as the resolutions to most situations come too easily and conveniently. I haven't read the first two books of the series ("The Reincarnationist" and "The Memorist") so it may be unfair of me to criticize the overall development of the book and the characters are interesting and well developed. Despite a couple of small critiques I'd still recommend "The Hypnotist" because it's an entertaining book that explores a subject that is surprisingly unexplored in popular fiction. It doesn't make any particular judgments about reincarnation, but rather deals with it as if is real and important to the story as it impacts all the characters in one way or another. And yet the device never feels heavy-handed. It's a fast-moving, enjoyable read that would travel well on vacation-- though it accompanied me to the gym-- and a nice break from the werewolf/vampire fiction that is so prevalent these days. Courtesy of M. J. Rose I am able to offer a copy of "The Hypnotist" for giveaway (U.S./Canada entries only). Just add your information to the form below to enter (all information is guaranteed confidential and will be discarded once contest ends) and I will randomly pick a winner by Tuesday August 24th. No multiple entries please-- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere. Good luck!