By M. J. Rose
Available now from Mira (Harlequin)
M. J. Rose's Reincarnationist series is popular, but I've remained skeptical. I find reincarnation kind of goofy. Objectively, reincarnation is far less goofy than vampires or fairies, which I like. I prefer to treat it like magic instead of something serious, however, because if I take it seriously I find it kind of horrifying. But I did enjoy Kirsten Miller's THE ETERNAL ONES, so I decided to give Rose's THE HYPNOTIST a chance.
I have not read the first two books in the series, but I caught up pretty quickly. Lucian Glass is an FBI agent specializing in Art Crime, who is obsessed with proving that Malachai Samuels is a criminal. Samuels is a member of the Phoenix Foundation and dedicated to proving that reincarnation exists. In order to do so, he is trying to find Memory Tools, mystical objects created long ago to help people remember past lives. I found most of Rose's approach to reincarnation palatable, but I'm still giggling over the Memory Tools (which include a "fragrant pot of wax").
At the same time, there are a variety of odd things happening at the Met. There's a legal battle over the ownership of a dilapidated statue of Hypnos. Paintings that had been bequeathed to the museum, then stolen, are now being returned - in pieces. The construction crew on the new Islam wing keeps losing workers. And all of these things are possibly related.
The subtitle proclaims THE HYPNOTIST to be a novel of suspense. Rose takes an approach I'm not overly fond of - you know whodunit from the beginning, but you don't know why. (Well, there are a ton of crimes in THE HYPNOTIST. You know who done most.) At the same time, discovering why is most of the fun. Rose keeps the pages turning, which is the most important thing for me in the suspense genre. As I said, there are a lot of crimes to explore. Rose thankfully doesn't linger over the terrible things that happen to her characters. The violence is never described in loving detail. At the same time, much of THE HYPNOTIST is in villain point-of-views. It sometimes feels icky.
Most of the crimes in THE HYPNOTIST revolve around art and antiquities theft, which I find very interesting. Cultural heritage is an ephemeral but powerful thing. I might've enjoyed the book more without the reincarnation aspect, but I still found THE HYPNOTIST to be a good read. The plot is tight and driving and the good guy characters are likeable enough.