This is the first of the series I’ve read, but THE HYPNOTIST is book three in the Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose. Lucien Glass, a member of ACT (the FBI’s Art Crime Team), is on the hunt for the person(s) responsible for destroying a priceless Matisse. The trail leads to Glass’s nemesis, nutso hypnotist Malachai Samuels. Glass, tormented by memories of the murder of his girlfriend years earlier, begins to suspect there is a connection between the ravaged painting, Samuels and the murder. There’s a lot more to this complex story, but I’ll leave it at that. I read THE HYPNOTIST because it involves ACT, a major museum, art crime, and a story within a story told in quasi-flashbacks—all elements in my current WIP. Fascinating tale, but frankly, the book’s third person POV didn’t draw me in as I’d hoped. I wanted to care about Glass, but I didn’t. On the upside, this book made me take a critical look at my own WIP, as well as my choice of POV. After reading THE HYPNOTIST, I began rewriting my manuscript in first person. Go figure.
As with THE HYPNOTIST, I read Tatiana de Rosnay’s SARAH’S KEY because it touches upon a subject I’m grappling with in my work: the fate of Jewish children in Nazi occupied France. SARAH’S KEY is really two stories. One, the tale of ten year-old Sarah and her family, victims of the 1942 Vél’ d’Hiv’ round-ups in Paris, during which thousands of Jews were herded into the Velodrome d’Hiver and eventually sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. The other story is set in 2002 Paris and tells of American journalist, Julia Jarmond’s investigation into the ’42 round-ups. When Julia discovers a personal connection to Sarah, their stories converge. Sarah’s chronicle is stunning and heart wrenching. It’s a poignant tribute to the more than 13,000 who lost their lives in the Vél’ d’Hiv’ tragedy. Conversely, Julia’s story is a series of soap opera clichés from her jerk of a philandering husband to her miracle baby. For me, Julia’s self-indulgent melodrama added nothing to the story. My recommendation? Pay no attention to Julia. Read this book for Sarah.