July 3, 2013

Book review: Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

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Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

I've been seeing Jo Nesbo's name pop up more and more lately, with people saying he's the next Stieg Larsson. Then again, that means little to me since I've never read Stieg Larsson, but I've watched the Dragon Tattoo movies. :-)

First off, let me say that I didn't care for the protagonist of Headhunters, Roger Brown. It wouldn't have bothered me what kind of tragedy befell him. However, I still found the book entertaining because it was interesting to read about the situations that Jo Nesbo put him in. One of the situations was probably the most revolting scenes I've read in a long time. I won't spoil it (or disgust you), but surprisingly, it didn't involve any blood or dead bodies. (There is another disgusting scene with blood and dead bodies, but for some reason, it didn't bother me as much. Nesbo is a sick bastard nonetheless.)

Headhunters also included a couple of delightful twists, one that I sort of saw coming and one that I didn't at all. The story starts out making you think it's about an art heist until you learn something else is going on, only to find out there's yet another reason for the actions in the book. Jo Nesbo does a good job of narrating so that it kept me on my toes.

Aside from an unsympathetic protagonist, I wondered about the reasons why both Roger Brown and the villain of the novel did some of the things they did. Nesbo seems to like having his characters take things to extremes when it wasn't necessary, when a more rational option was available. Those choices made the story more interesting, perhaps, but it also lost credibility in my mind.

Despite its flaws, I can see why the author has received the praise heaped upon him. Headhunters is a solid story that piqued my interest in more of Nesbo's works.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien.

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