I had a go at Jo Nesbo a while back -- read one of his Harry Hole novels, which I didn't particularly like. So I'm not sure why I ended up reading, or rather listening to, this one -- perhaps Audible described it in an interesting way? Anyway, it was absolutely rivetting though not one for the fainthearted. I do read a lot of crime novels, especially at the moment, but I tend to go for something rather milder, with more emphasis on the solving of mysteries than on violence and gore. Well, those things do figure here, I can tell you, though I was able to stomach them because of the brilliance of the twists and turns of the plot.
Set in Oslo, this is the story of Roger Brown, who is a highly successful headhunter. Here's a bit of the opening chapter which shows his interviewing technique:
'I'd like..', I said with a smile. Not the open, unconditional smile that invites a stranger to come in from the cold, not the frivolous one. But the courteous, semi-warm smile that, according to the literature, signals the interviewer's professionalism, objectivity and analytical approach. Indeed, it is this lack of emotional committment that causes the client to trust his interviewer's integrity....I don't put on this smile because of the literature, though. I don't give a damn about the literature; it is chock a bloc with various degrees of authoritative bullshit. No, I put on this smile because I really am professional, objective and analytical. I am a headhunter. It is not that difficult, but I am king of the heap.
So yes, Roger is full of himself, and yes, he has reason to be -- not only is he top of his game as a headhunter, but he also uses his interviews with rich and successful businessmen to seek out information to help him with his lucrative sideline as an art thief. He has a beautiful wife, Diana, who runs an art gallery, and life is good. Or it was, until Diana introduced him to Clas Greve, a perfect candidate for an exciting position that Roger can help him attain. Not only that, but Clas has in his possession one of the most valuable works of art in the world, one that will make Roger rich beyon his wildest dreams. But when Roger sets up the theft, safe in the knowledge that Clas is out of town for the night, he makes a discovery in Clas's flat that turns his world upside down. From that point on, things get very sticky indeed, and soon Roger is on the run from a man who turns out to be a ruthless and amoral killer.
Well, to tell you any more would spoil the fun -- if, that is, you can stand being shocked and surprised and sometimes rather revolted at every turn. Why I can not only stand it but actually rather enjoy it is a bit of a mystery in itself, but there you are. I've just found out that there is a film of this novel and have read the Guardian review which has made me so desirous to see it that I am right now downloading it from iTunes. Isn't technology wonderful?