Roger Brown has it all: clever and wealthy, he’s at the very top of his game. And if his job as a headhunter ever gets dull, he has his sideline as an art thief to keep him busy.
At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history.
Roger sees his chance to become rich beyond his wildest dreams, and starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble – and it’s not long before the hunter becomes the hunted…
The crime fiction of Western Europe has proven to be a recent discovery for me. They have a unique set of obsessions and themes, a degree of technical rigour and manage to carry a delicate balance between background exposition, back story and detailed scenes of torture and murder.
Jo Nesbo is one of the biggest names and this was my first book of his. I’ve dipped into other writers, Lars Keppler and Erik Axl Sund are two recent additions to my lexicon of the genre and now I have another writer with an extensive back catalogue to explore.
A quality problem to have.
Roger, the protagonist manages to defend his actions with a paean to domestic and romantic patronage. His wife, a beautiful and forthright woman, inspires his criminal enterprises so he can fund her tastes and hobbies. This reason, slight as it is, is well presented and makes him a fun character. It becomes important as the situation demands he carries out an escalating series of betrayals, crimes and evasions in order to stay one step ahead of the situation he finds himself involved in. Nesbo uses a crisp, well-observed tone for Roger, which makes his descent into horror all the more involving and enjoyable.
The cultural differences are organic and add a sense of place which made it all the more enjoyable for me. I may not have visited the places Roger has, but Nesbo’s skill makes it part of the palate and it adds depth and warmth to the story.
Some detachment and artifice in the use of minor characters does detract from the book to a small degree but otherwise this was cerebral, entertaining and moves like a bastard throughout.
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