Headhunters, by Jo Nesbo

Finally Jo Nesbo’s freestanding novel Headhunters, is here. This is not a Harry Hole novel: instead of the tall, gutsy detective this novel features Roger Brown, a headhunter. An excellent headhunter even, a man who is extremely good at locating and selecting the right candidates for top corporate positions. He is an expensive guy to hire, but definitely worth every penny: He is a man who can see right through job candidates, asking just the right questions, testing their wits and skills and making them tense or relaxed at will. When he is ready, he slices them open with a winning smile. He intuits what the employer needs, even if the employer doesn’t know it, and delivers candidates with the perfect mix of qualities.

Roger Brown, the main protagonist in Headhunters, is an intriguing guy. He is small: only 1 meter 68 centimeters – five and a half feet. Despite what some might view as an obstacle, he is extremely successful, very well-respected, and quite attractive to beautiful women. He has that certain “je ne sais quoi” – that extra-special something; the glitter in the eye, the wit, the sharp edge, the charisma. He is hands-down the best headhunter in Norway, and he knows it. His talent has led to stunning successes for some very fortunate corporations and has saved others from ruinous disasters.

Roger Brown is married to the stunningly beautiful and desirable Diana – definitely a sight for sore eyes but a very expensive woman to maintain. So, even though Roger makes a small fortune at his profession, he finds himself in deep financial trouble. He and his delightful and charming wife always manage to spend far more than even Roger is able to bring home.

So Roger needs to make some serious money on the side. Which he does. He has a second career where he is every bit as competent as he is in his “day” job. Roger Brown is an extremely adept art thief. In a sense, he has leveraged his job as a headhunter into this second, highly profitible career – Roger-the-Headhunter learns many things that are useful for Roger-the-Thief. And he doesn’t mind stealing from his clients, just as long as the chances of his being found out are minimal.

However, after breaking into the house of the ideal candidate for a very high-level position, he suddenly realizes he may have gone one step too far. Brown felt certain that the theft of the candidate’s Rubens would be the solution to his financial woes. The final solution, in fact. But in the house, he discovers something which leads him to believe that the relationship between him and his beloved Diana may not be exactly what it seems. Then, the next morning he finds his “partner in crime” dead in the front seat of his own car. Something is very wrong, indeed: The headhunter/art thief has now become the prey of a depraved but very smart and experienced man-hunter. If Roger is to come out of this in one piece, he will have to employ all of his considerable brainpower, wits and skills, and will need a very hefty dose of luck as well.

Headhunters is a wonderful crime fiction novel. Roger Brown may well be one of the best headhunters out there – who knows? It is quite certain, however, that Jo Nesbo is one of the very best crime fiction writers of our time, with a dynamic, unique writing style, excellent dialogues, intriguing characters, good descriptions, and who is wonderfully skilled at building suspense. Headhunters is an entertaining, action-filled and very well-crafted crime fiction novel. Jo Nesbo’s plot has more twists and turns than the road from Oslo to Bergen! Headhunters is an absolute pearl of a thriller – great fun, keeps you on the edge of your chair, and leaves you with a serious craving for more!

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