Reincarnation is something I’ve always been fascinated with. The idea that a person can come into this world having lived multiple lives before they can even form a coherent thought, is something that captures my imagination. This idea has provided endless speculation about what I could have been in another life. Was I rich? A warrior? A bad person? Did I have children? What were the struggles that I faced? These are all moot questions really, as I’m not sure that I believe in reincarnation, but it sure is fun to imagine all of those scenarios. My fascination with the subject is the main reason why The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose caught my eye.
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.
I’ll preface this by saying that having not read the first two books didn’t effect my understanding or enjoyment of The Hypnotist at all. There were references to events that happened in these previous novels, but they were explained in a manner that left no room for confusion.
The Hypnotist is at it’s heart a mystery-thriller novel. Reincarnation is secondary to the mystery of who is taking some very expensive pieces of art and destroying them almost beyond repair. Throughout The Hypnotist, the reader follows many people, but the main character is FBI agent Lucien Glass, an agent of the Art Crime Team. He has tirelessly worked on the case, sometimes incurring physical harm. However, he refuses to hand the case over to someone else in order to get some perspective. He’s determined, but that doesn’t stop the incessant head aches or the dreams of terrified women that he is always compelled to draw. Lucien was the voice of reason in The Hypnotist. During the investigation into serious art theft, Lucian was given strong evidence of reincarnation through his own regressions. However, he still remained skeptical, and I appreciated that because with everything going on it was easy to get swept away. To believe that – at least in the world of M.J. Rose’s creation – reincarnation was without a doubt real.
In The Hypnotist there was so many things that pointed to past lives being a reality. I thought that at one point there would surely be a definitive moment when a skeptic would be able to say without a doubt that reincarnation was real. However, that isn’t what happened. The book gave a lot of instances in history of specific objects and the people that surround them. It also strongly suggested that the history that was being told belonged to the past lives of these people. However, none of the disbelievers came right out and said that reincarnation was fact and not fiction. I found that I actually liked this. Usually I don’t like when characters don’t clearly have an opinion on something that is so central to the story, but I thought that by not actually coming out and having someone’s belief system changed, that the story was given a more realistic feel.
I also really enjoyed the mystery in The Hypnotist. There weren’t that many instances in this book were I could have said without a doubt what was going to happen, and the way that every thing came together was quite impressive. Even the most unrelated incidents and people ended up being woven together in a way that was completely plausible if not a little convenient, but I don’t think that took away from my liking this book.
Overall, I would say that The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose was a very good read. The book kept me on my toes, was able to hold my attention without effort, and had me fascinated with it’s character’s stories. I would recommend The Hypnotist to any Dan Brown fans. It definitely had that Da Vinci Code feeling to it. With it’s nod to religion and the fast paced thriller feel The Hypnotist is certainly similar, however, it has twist and turns that make it stand apart all on it’s own.