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"I [am] Roger Brown, the headhunter who has never nominated a candidate for a job he did not get.",
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This review is from: Headhunters (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (Paperback)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.
When he interviews a Dutch candidate for a major position in a corporation that makes sophisticated GPS devices, including some so tiny that they can be hidden in gels, he discovers that Clas Greve is his job candidate from hell, pushing back and eventually seizing the initiative. Soon every aspect of Roger's life is threatened, and no holds are barred. To go into much more detail would risk giving spoilers, but Nesbo is at his outrageous best here, allowing himself free rein to create a taut mystery with darkly hilarious complications which never stop coming, and coming, and coming. Creative killings and near misses inspire the reader to keep trying to figure out who is involved and how, but as soon as one "knows" how some betrayal took place, Nesbo twists the plot to show that the reader is wrong - yet again.
Adding to the pure fun and zany excitement are scenes which also evoke the reader's sympathies. Talented young executive Jeremias Lander, whose interview opens the novel, is manipulated by Roger Brown, illustrating some of the techniques headhunters use to guarantee that their candidates are ready for the jobs they want, even if they have to wait a while to get them. Roger's wife Diana, who once had an abortion that she didn't want, evokes sympathy as she deals constantly with the emotional aftereffects. Lotte, a "timid whelp, small and scruffy with fearful, brown puppy eyes," is used and discarded. Still, Nesbo's focus remains primarily on the plot and its twists, and his deadpan descriptions of outrageous (and truly unforgettable) scenes will keep readers smirking throughout, even as they are saying "E-e-w-w-w."
Note: All the proceeds from this novel will go to the Harry Hole Foundation, promoting literacy in the Third World. Already sold and developed as a film, this is the first Nesbo novel to hit the screen.
Nemesis: A Novel (Harry Hole)
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 10, 2011 12:49:43 PM PDT
Andrea Bowhill says:
Great review Mary, a little behind although read will have to get mine up soon, thoroughly enjoyed the manipulation and dry humour of this one and hope to see much more writting from this Author outside of the Hole novels too. :)
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2011 7:53:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2011 7:53:20 PM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
There's one scene in the rural countryside that I cannot imagine anyone EVER filming! The thought is scary! My spouse just read the book while we were in the air for six hours, and when I asked him how anyone could film this scene, his answer was, "They couldn't." I'm sure you know the scene. And if they do film it as written, no matter how funny it is in print, remind me not to go. :-) Mary
In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 2:39:51 PM PDT
JAL reader says:
In fact, this scene has taken place in several movies, from Slumdog Millionaire, to Schindler's List... unfortunately, etched in my movie memory!
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