Headhunters by Jo Nesbo. Translated by Don Bartlett (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Finished: Apr. 6, 2012
First Published: Sep. 6,
Publisher: Vintage Canada
First sentence: "The candidate was terrified."
Publisher's Summary: "Roger Brown has it all: Norway's most successful headhunter, he is married to a beautiful gallery owner and owns a magnificent house. But he's also a highly accomplished art thief. At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of The Calydonian Boar Hunt by Rubens, one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history. Roger sees his chance to become financially independent, and starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble--and it's not financial problems that are threatening to knock him over this time..."
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Reason for Reading: I read every new book by this author!
This is Jo Nesbo's first standalone thriller and I have to say the publisher's summary does not do it justice. Headhunters in the title refers to Roger Brown's job as a corporate headhunter; someone who finds the perfect candidate for high position corporate jobs, such as CEO. Going into this book, knowing I loved Jo Nesbo as an author, I didn't really know what to expect about a story that the publisher's back summary told me was about art theft and the corporate business world. Two things not exactly up my alley. As I read, the opening hook caught me and I knew I'd have to finish the book just find out what that was all about! But as I read on the character of Roger Brown intrigued me and Nesbo had me, even though art theft was not my thing. I was missing the serial killer aspect of his Harry Hole books.
However, at a certain point in this extremely short (for Jo Nesbo) book the plot takes a certain twist and art theft almost is forgotten, as the theme becomes one of a man hunted, running for his life, finding he has no allays, and turning his intelligence to new matters as he tries to outwit a master. This part of the book is fantastic! It should make an incredibly suspenseful movie. Twist after twist keeps the reader on their toes and you never know how things will turn out in the end as both men must change their plans repeatedly. The book is dark and violent, yet humorous with it's black comedy and some of the grossest moments have a certain comedic air to them. A quote on the back of my book mentions "worthy of Quentin Torentino" and that is just exactly how I see this as well.
One thing I did not like was the ending, there is, of course, a final twist, which left me a little cold. I thought it was better if things had been left the way they were before this twist and would have preferred a different ending. But overall, an exhilarating novel which lets me know Nesbo can write anything. I've read his Harry Hole series, his children's Dr. Proctor trilogy and now this standalone thriller and will continue to read any book emblazoned with the words "by Jo Nesbo". A little research shows he has an anthology of short stories which has not been translated into English yet. This reader would look forward to the publication of that volume in the near future!