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Literature / Headhunters

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Headhunters is a crime thriller by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. It tells the story of Roger Brown, a top-level "headhunter" whose job is to recruit the best people to fill positions within his clients' companies. Unfortunately, Roger's got some serious money problems - desperate to keep his beautiful wife Diana happy, he bought her a house that they can't afford, and allows her to run a gallery that's hemorrhaging money, and in order to keep them afloat, he's turned to art theft. One night, he is introduced to Clas Greve, a charismatic executive who just happens to have an obscenely valuable painting lying around in his apartment, and Roger can't resist the urge to steal it. Naturally, things go horribly, horribly wrong.


It was later adapted into a movie.

This book contains examples of the following:

  • Abusive Parents: Roger's father was a raging drunk who beat him and his mother. As Roger grew up, he made a point of avoiding his parents, and was not sad when his father died in a drunk-driving accident.
  • Asshole Victim: The first third of the book is taken up with demonstrating what a self-absorbed, misogynist prick Roger is so that you don't feel too badly about everything that happens to him over the course of the rest of the book.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Roger kills Ove with one of these.
  • The Chessmaster: Both Roger and Clas are capable of making complex plots.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Roger seems to have cared about his mother enough that he invited her to his wedding... though not enough to allow her to bring his father along.
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  • Eye Scream: Roger shoots Lotte in the eye.
  • Fingore: As part of his efforts to fake his own death, Roger puts his clothes on a corpse and then mutilates the poor bastard's fingers so that no one will be able to identify him.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted; In the backstory, Roger convinced Diana to have an abortion, because he didn't want to have to compete with a child for her affections.
  • Groin Attack: Clas lost his ability to reproduce after a drug lord destroyed his testicles. Towards the end of the book, Roger shoots him in the groin.
  • Jerkass: Roger is the kind of guy who'd force his wife into having an abortion because he's afraid of competing with a child for her affections, the kind of guy who blames his mother for not standing up to his abusive father, and the kind of guy who can't even be bothered to learn his secretary's name. He's an asshole, in other words.
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  • MacGuffin: The Calydonian Boar Hunt, a Rubens painting long believed to have been lost during World War II, seems to be the answer to all of Roger's money problems... and Clas Greve just happens to have it in his apartment.
  • Mind Screw: Throughout the second half of the book, we are led to believe that Roger killed Diana, but towards the end, we learn that he actually killed Lotte; he'd realized that she was working with Clas and was feeding him information about Roger.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Roger hates dogs. Naturally, Clas has a very large and ferocious dog.

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