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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 14, 2013
This standalone novel has a very cinematic quality about it and is an invigorating read that provides hours of entertainment. It offers a wonderful change of pace from the author’s well-known series featuring the tough, hard drinking police inspector Harry Hole.

The story is fast paced and is narrated by a smooth, secretive and deeply bashful business executive Roger Brown whose high paying job is to recruit senior managerial talent for leading international corporations. Roger’s vanity is his fine head of hair and his trophy wife Diana who runs a fashionable Oslo art gallery which he heavily subsidizes. Their lifestyle stretches the limits of their day jobs so to pay for their extravagance, Roger has a lucrative sideline. Without his wife’s knowledge Roger and his assistant from a security firm steal precious art works and connect them with the discreet well to do for a hefty price.

Everything goes fine till one day he mixes his day job with his extracurricular activities. While breaking into the house of one of his well to do and well-connected clients he uncovers his wife’s missing personalized cell phone and realizes she also may have a shady hidden side to her life. In days to come, Roger discovers he may have targeted someone too close to home. The client/victim/lover and very dangerous man is now hell bent on finding the person who crossed him and will go to any extreme to make him pay. Roger will need all the brainpower and plenty of luck to distance himself from the predicament he is in.

Jo Nesbo has a unique writing style that encompasses an abundance of twists and turns and side plots that are well-crafted. He skillfully builds suspense into dynamic plots that have excellent narration and characters that are not only intriguing but also extremely well-developed.

This mystery had my full attention right from the start and it was a blast till the very end
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"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." -- Matthew 24:13 (NKJV)

You will probably be put off by four things about this book:

1. The beginning isn't very appealing.
2. You won't be cheering too much for Roger Brown in most places.
3. While the "thrilling" parts are quite powerful, there aren't enough of them.
4. The ending will make you feel that the whole book is overly contrived.

With all of that said, I thought that the "thrilling" parts were as vividly frightening as anything I've read in some time. To me, it was worth plowing through the rest to experience that brilliant writing. By the end, I felt that it was worthwhile reading the book. See what you think.
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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!
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on May 4, 2012
This book is a great and fast read. The story pulls you in and keeps you guessing until the end. I've since read several of Jo Nesbo's booksand have liked them all. This is a good one to start with!
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on December 31, 2015
Not your typical Nebo book but enjoyably different, No detective Harry Hole in this one but,a captivating story line that keeps moving at a fast pace. Different cast of character from the Nesbo norm but still very interesting. Highly Recommended by a big fan of Jon Nesbo.
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on February 16, 2012
I have read all of Nesbo's Harry Hole books that are available in Canada. Headhunters is a very good stand-alone book but still has the fast paced, plot twists of the Harry Hole stories. Nesbo fills each page with interesting turns, unexpected twists,and gory scenes that leave little to the imagination. Think the worst thing that could happen in an outhouse! Full of facinating and devious characters and interesting insights into the world of headhunters and top executives. My only problem with the book is that the Norwegian police come off looking pretty inept in the conclusions they draw due to sloppy forensics. The one that stands out most is a fresh bullet hole in a body dead at least 24 hours and that was not picked up at autopsy? And no DNA or forensic trace ever shows up linking Roger Brown, the books main charater, although he has been everywhere leaving trace behind. Perhaps I have been watching too many CSI shows but there seemed to be a lot of unexplained forensic flaws. I cannot help but think that if Harry Hole had been on that case Headhunters would have had a very different ending.
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What a great cover eh? Take a second look at it....creepy and clever. And so is the author Jo Nesbo. I picked up Headhunters thinking that it would feature Nesbo's recurring series character Detective Harry Hole. I started reading, realized that it wasn't and felt slightly disappointed. But I lost that feeling about 10 pages in. Nesbo has written an ingenious, intricately plotted stand alone thriller that had me hooked from start to finish.

Roger Brown is a professional recruiter, a 'headhunter' if you will. He's not just one of the best, he is the best, as he'll tell you. And Roger likes having the best of everything. Sadly his salary does not quite match the lifestyle he's created for his wife and himself. So Roger art theft. Conveniently during his many recruitment interviews, he steers the discussion to art. His latest applicant, Clas Greve, has a piece of art that would leave Roger sitting pretty for the rest of his life. Roger breaks into Greve's home in search of the painting and finds much more than he bargained for......

Nesbo's characterization of Roger is perfect - he comes across as a cocky, superior know-it-all, confident in his abilities to out think and out maneuver anyone and everyone. When Clas Greve begins to challenge Roger's abilities, a delicious game of cat and mouse is the result. The dialogue is quick, witty and darkly humourous. The plotting is very inventive and had me guessing until the very end.

Headhunters has been made into a film in Nesbo's native Norway. The publisher's blurb on the back of the book.." Nesbo has crafted a funny, dark and twisted caper worthy of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers" is spot on.
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on March 15, 2015
Excellent plot and very well written. Well done Jo - I look forward to reading more of your work. Peter
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The Norwegian crime writer has produced in "Headhunters" an intriguing Nordic psychological thriller where the main characters, Roger Brown and Clas Greve, go toe-to-toe and, eventually, head-to-head in a deadly battle to control each other's lives. We have, in these two testosterone-loaded males enough nastiness to not only want to ultimately win a deadly game but that will threaten the lives of others in close proximity. From the outset, the circumstances that bring them together in this grim comedy of misplaced ambitions appear both maddeningly random and ironically appropriate. Brown is someone who is a corporate headhunter whose wife owns an art gallery that isn't doing well. Because Brown has become so engrossed in becoming financially secure, their marriage has started to fail. To save it, Brown hits on an idea to steal some valuable artwork from one of his clients whom he is interviewing for a top job in his company. While Brown confidently believes he has got his man square in his sights, what he doesn't know is that Clas has his own agenda that will invariably clash with his desire to save his marriage. As the plot deepens, the reader is hit with a flurry of surprises as to how these two very larger-than-life individuals attempt to outsmart and overwhelm each other. Nesbo is a master of creating cat-and-mouse scenarios where it is sometimes hard to know which person really has the upper hand: the predator or the prey? A job interview quickly segues into an art heist that leads to a discovery that who you are trying to steal a painting from in order to help your wife is actually having an affair with her. Be prepared for many more of these crazy twists and turns as Roger Brown, the professional headhunter, becomes the hunted. Like many of Nesbo's novels, this one is fast-paced, brutal, brilliantly ironic and very thought-provoking as to what constitutes reality: what we see or don't see on the face of things?
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on June 2, 2012
I am a great fan of Jo Nesbo, based on his Harry Hole series - I have and have read all available english editions, each of which I would give 4 or 5 stars.

I bought Headhunters expecting a comparable effort on the author's part, but was sorely disappointed. The only plus is that the story moves along quickly. IMO Nesbo quickly producted this novel and put little effort into it. The main character, Roger Brown, is completely narcissistic and unlikeable. The story is so improbable to be almost laughable - Brown, a "suit", outwits a trained military commando/killer and the police, or are portrayed, as little more than "Keystone Cops".

If one wants to read Jo Nesbo, try any of the Harry Hole series, but I wouldn't recommend this effort.
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