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Headhunters (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 6, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 348 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This stand-alone gives us a brilliant array of variously flawed human beings involved in a tale of intricate plotting, excellent characterization, made-for-the-movies effects and images, and a multifaceted surprise ending. . . . A true thriller from start to finish.” —Library Journal
“A twisty, plot-driven Hitchcockian thriller. . . . Nesbo delivers one shock after the other, culminating with a doozy of a switcheroo at the finish. It’s gripping reading.” —Booklist
“Nesbø takes a break from his Harry Hole detective series . . . with this stellar stand-alone caper.. . . . The dizzying reversals of fortune and situations that would be over-the-top in lesser hands make for a delightful roller-coaster ride. Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard fans will be delighted.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“If you don’t know Nesbø, it’s time to get with it.” —USA Today

“Like [Stieg] Larsson, Nesbø explores the darkest criminal minds with grim delight and puts his killers where you least expect to find them. . . . [and] his novels are maddeningly addictive.” —Vanity Fair

“Chances are you’ll be hooked . . . as Nesbø lays down a trail rich in Nordic atmosphere and in character-driven development . . . Ultimately, though, what sets Nesbø apart is his ability to keep the pages turning with such intellectual dexterity.” —Newsday

“Nesbø has a horrormeister’s flair for transforming natural scenes into ominous situations.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Irresistibly addictive. . . . This is reading as you experienced it in childhood, without any gap between eye and mind, but with the added pleasures that adult plots and adult characters can bring. . . . Brilliantly conceived, carefully worked out, and complicatedly satisfying.” —Slate
“Nesbø’s books have a serious, socially significant heft, as well as a confident (even cocky) narrative stride that is unmatched.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Nesbø’s pace is unerring, and the way he builds up suspense will incite Pavlovian page-turning.” —Time Out New York
“With Henning Mankell having written his last Wallander novel and Stieg Larsson no longer with us, I have had to make the decision on whom to confer the title of best current Nordic writer of crime fiction. . . . I hesitate no longer. [Nesbø] wins. . . . This is crime writing of the highest order.” —The Times (London)
“A mind-blowing story that captivates the reader from the very first page. … [Nesbø] has found a delightfully laconic, hard-boiled tone in Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett’s tracks, which triumphs exactly where it should: when circumstances are the worst, the bullets zing by and the corpses pile up. . . . Entertaining, sharp and suspenseful.” —Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“This book is one you absolutely have to read. . . . The outrageous storytelling is so stimulating, it makes James Ellroy look like a Boy Scout and Bret Easton Ellis like a Sunday-school boy.” —Helsingin Sanomat (Finland)

“A highly entertaining, first-rate crime novel, where Nesbø uses his entire register of narrative techniques and tricks to tell a story that is wilder and more zany than anything he has ever written before.” —Dagbladet (Norway)
“Nesbø can out-write most of his Scandinavian colleagues. . . . Cleverly written and effectively composed, and you can easily devour it in one ravishing read.” —Nordjyske Stiftstidende (Denmark)
Headhunters has everything that makes a good crime novel: Strange murders, inventive disappearing acts and above all brilliant fraud for all you’re worth.” —Bogrummet (Denmark)

“The reader is glued to the pages like gum to the street. . . . With Headhunters, Nesbø has accomplished [a] . . . brilliant and elegant thriller.” —Dagsavisen (Norway)

About the Author

Jo Nesbø is a musician, songwriter, economist, and author. The first crime novel in his Inspector Harry Hole series was published in Norway in 1997, an instant hit, winning the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel (an accolade shared with Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell). He also established the Harry Hole Foundation, a charity to reduce illiteracy among children in the third world. He lives in Oslo.

Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Tra edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307948687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307948687
  • ASIN: 0307948684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The word "headhunter" might conjure up images of violent death. But Roger Brown, the lead headhunter in Jo Nesbo's book, works for an Oslo employment agency that recommends candidates for top management positions. Big money is at stake. If a company hires someone Roger recommends, Roger gets a huge commission. Roger is highly skilled and shares his technique as he narrates the story.

Roger's wife, Diana, is beautiful and very demanding. She runs an art gallery that is losing money. Roger needs to supplement his headhunting pay. No, he does not start working on the side in a fast food joint. As we learn early on, he steals expensive works of art.

So, we have an intriguing storyline. We have excellent writing. Much of the writing is as good as it gets, strengthened by Nesbo's keen knowledge of human nature and sharp sense of humor. We come to know quite well Roger, Diana, and several other key characters.

The novel is full of surprises. Surprises about Diana. Turns out she has a very dangerous friend. At one point Roger finds himself in great peril. He has only seconds to hide. He hides in a most unusual place. Nesbo's description of this incident is, in my opinion, unforgettable. Sorry, no more clues.

It's all very clever indeed. This is the fifth gem by Nesbo that I have read and reviewed for this site. The only flaw I can find in this particular gem is that Nesbo may be a bit too clever sometimes, particularly as the conclusion approached. He nearly writes himself into a corner. Hopefully, you'll see exactly what I mean if you read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo's latest novel is a stand-alone, not part of his Harry Hole series, and it provides yet another example of Nesbo's immense talent as a story-teller. Nesbo never "writes the same book twice." Even the five Harry Hole novels currently available in the U.S. are very different from each other. In this novel, Nesbo lets his darkest, most deadpan humor loose in a wild but beautifully constructed mystery in which the organization of the novel parallels textbook recommendations regarding interviewing and hiring candidates for executive positions - seemingly a straightforward process. Nesbo turns it all on its head, however. His "headhunter," Roger Brown is a loathsome human being, but he is as close to a "hero" as one gets in this page-turner. His powerful enemies are at least as clever, opportunistic, and amoral as he is.

By focusing on these characters, however, Nesbo frees himself from the limitations of the police procedural and can take his story in new directions, omitting the law entirely from almost all of the action, and creating a plot in which Roger Brown and his enemies play a game in which the "king of the chessboard" is the person who survives. Roger Brown has a side business, set up so cleverly that none of the other participants know who else is involved, a business which handsomely supplements his business income. As he interviews clients, Roger gains important personal information, including their artistic tastes and the nature of their investments in art. Then he cleverly arranges to have that artwork stolen from their homes and fenced. No one ever suspects him.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Any doubt that Norway's Jo Nesbo is at the top of Scadinavian crime writers is put to rest with "Headhunters," an unusual bit of noir that starts campy - one begins to wonder where Nesbo is headed here - but finishes dark and gritty; a mystery of murder and violence with twists worthy of Hitchcock.

Setting aside Oslo homicide inspector Harry Hole and opting for a stand alone novel, in "Headhunters," Nesbo tells the story of Roger Brown, a self-centered, mildly obnoxious executive recruiter who is nonetheless at the top of his field of executive recruiting. Marrying over-his-head to a model-quality wife with an art gallery and a talent for spending money, the financially strapped Brown runs an art theft racket on the side to support their lavish lifestyle. When Brown is introduced to former special ops warrior Clas Greve, the perfect CEO candidate for a high profile technology corporation, a seemingly straightforward assignment spirals into a bloody page-turner packed with murder, intrigue, deceit and surprise.

Nesbo is the real deal. "Headhunters" is characteristic of lean plotting and enough atmospheric to set the tone - but not distract from the action. The premise is fresh; the absence of cops or private investigators refreshing. And as always, Nesbo paints a vivid cast; the oily Brown, his Barbie wife, the formidable Greve, and Ove Kjikerud, head of security and partner-in-crime for Brown's art thieving. If you haven't discovered Jo Nesbo yet - especially if you're bemoaning the passing of Stieg Larsson - now is the time to get acquainted.
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By Bcooper on September 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read all the other Jo Nesbo books that are available in English and thoroughly enjoyed them. The protagonist in the others I have read by this author is Harry Hole, a brilliant, difficult, yet highly sympathetic character. I thought the plot here was quite clever, but I did not sympathize with the main character. Of course there are many examples of great literature with unsympathetic characters, such as Hamlet, but the author does not give the reader any reason to care what happens to the protagonist. I may be spoiled, because the other books by this author are so good that I could not wait to read this one.
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