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Headhunters (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 6, 2011
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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“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.
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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)
Roger Brown is the king of headhunters. He recruits CEOs and his recommendations are always accepted by the client. Roger is married to the beauteous Diana whom he thinks is a little out of his league. He augments his income by stealing works of art from his clients. He refuses her wish to have a child because he doesn't want to share her with a baby.
Roger holds his life together somehow until he comes up against CEO candidate Clas Greve, a ruthless psychopath with special forces training and a sadistic streak a mile wide who is in search of a top job and possibly looking to steal Roger's wife too.
There ensues a breathless hunt -- and then the hunted becomes the hunter. Roger endures more than any human ought to be able to and still keep his sanity. I won't go into detail -- for fear of deterring any innocent readers. There are double-crosses and triple-crosses and many surprises until we get to a thrilling climax. One even accepts some of the author's weirder technological inventions as part of the fun.
It takes a while to get into this book but it's worth the effort.
Inspector Hole is, of course, the intuitive alcoholic genius who routinely shows up all his colleagues in the Oslo Police Department; running insane risks that frequently result in beatings, shootings, or other mayhem, usually to himself; alienating everyone in authority; and breaking every rule (and many laws) in pursuit of his prey.
Headhunters is a crime novel of a different sort. The protagonist, Roger Brown, recruits senior executives for Norwegian companies and government agencies. He has gained a reputation for never having had any of his clients turn down one of his recommendations. As befitting what he believes to be his position in Oslo society, he is married to a breathtakingly beautiful woman, with whom he is desperately in love. He is also an accomplished art thief who regularly works an ingenious angle, using the gains from his thievery to indulge his much-loved wife.
Enter Clas Greve, a Dutch executive introduced to him by his (Roger’s) wife at the art gallery that soaks up every kroner Roger can muster, and more. It quickly becomes apparent that Greve could be the answer to all Roger’s troubles: he’s the perfect candidate for a position Roger desperately wants to fill, and he offers an opportunity for the biggest score of his career as a thief, a long-missing painting by Peter Paul Rubens. However, Roger gets more than he bargains for. A lot more. And therein lies the tale.
Headhunters is peopled with fascinating characters caught up in an intricate game of cat and mouse — or, more properly, leopard and hyena — and, as usual, it’s full of surprises.