Spoiler alert: this is not one of the detective novels in Jo Nesbo’s celebrated Harry Hole series. But don’t beat yourself up. I was fooled, too.
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, 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 his prestigious position in Oslo society, he is married to a breathtakingly beautiful woman. 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.
Headhunters by Jo Nesbo @@@@ (4 out of 5)
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.
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