Jo Nesbo’s ‘Headhunters’

I’m a huge fan of Jo Nesbo’s. As a writer, he manages to deliver consistently excellent plots with deeply real characters and the kind of writing that both makes your heart race and leaves you spitting through your teeth with envy. There’s a scene in The Leopard where he’s trapped in a mountain cabin that’s been buried by an avalanche, and I swear my own breathing stopped, and I had to whip the duvet off to avoid the crushing claustrophobia that came over me. *That’s* good writing for you.

Headhunters is the first of Jo Nesbo’s books that I’ve read that hasn’t featured Harry Hole. I decided to put aside the rest of his books and take this one on face value. Having said that, it is not quite as good as the others, but I suspect that’s because you don’t have time to grow to love the characters. And, it has to be said, not a single character is loveable. But it is funny, and it is suspenseful, and it has to have the best outhouse scene since Slumdog Millionaire.

Roger Brown is a headhunter specialising in CEO-level jobs. He’s very good at what he does, which is a good thing, because he leads a very expensive lifestyle. His beautiful wife runs an art gallery, and in additional to providing the financial backing for this, he makes sure that he gives her a big house, a flash car, and everything her heart desires, except for the baby that she wants and he doesn’t.

Roger makes a good living, but it isn’t enough, so he has a sideline in art theft. It’s the combination of his day job and his night one that gets him into big trouble when an exciting prospect for an executive job is introduced to him by his wife at her gallery.

I’ll leave it there, as I don’t want to give away spoilers, but it is a cracking read. Nesbo has little time for the sort of high-octane, materialistic, yummy mummy, Range Rover driving, designer posers that his Oslo seems to be full of, and his Roger Brown is their king. There’s a scene where he’s trying to figure out the background of a man by guessing his aftershave. He’s sure it’s a particular brand. ‘Or something in that price range anyway.’ Little snippets of interior monologue like this help to build up a sense of a man who judges others solely by their net worth, and expects others to do the same to him. Everything that Rogers gets in the book, every horrible, painful, freaky thing,  you can imagine is what Nesbo would love to see happen to Oslo’s elite (of which he clearly also is…). It makes for a highly entertaining read, where the baddies all get their grotesque comeuppance (or at least most of them do), and there’s even a clever twist (or two, or three…). I’m still waiting patiently for the next Harry novel to be translated into English, but no one does crime as well as Nesbo, including here.

And he’s not half bad to look at, either.

First Weight Loss Goal Reached!

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I have 50 lbs to lose, but that’s a hell of a lot. Pass me the fries with a side of peanut butter amount to lose. So I’ve taken expert (ie, women’s magazines) advice and have broken it into smaller chunks with a treat for each goal achieved.

So…drum roll…for my first 5 lbs…which only took me 4 bloody weeks…I give you, my treat! My most perfect shade of Chanel nailpolish. Manicure tonight, with no side of peanut butter.

Self-Help Summer Vacation

My reading this summer seems to be either about serial killers or self-help. Not sure what on earth this says about me! My current stack of books is a combination of sartorial guidance, getting organised, getting fitter and developing better leadership skills.

I’ve been away a lot this year, and one of the things that I love about it (other than going out to eat in nice restaurants with an expense account!) is that I have become a master packer. I love how the hotel closet looks, with only clothes that I love and that I actually wear hanging loosely apart. I love getting up and choosing something to wear for the day with very little thought and effort, having planned out my week’s activities and what I’ll need.

And then I get home, cram all of those clothes back into my closet alongside lots of other things that don’t fit or don’t suit me or aren’t my style but were on sale…

It may seem like quite a shallow point (and in the grand scheme of the world, it really really is!), but it’s part of my quest to try to live life a bit more mindfully. On the one hand, I don’t want to consume any more than I need to, and so I want to buy smarter and use what I buy (rather than never use, set to one side and eventually give to charity). On the other hand, I also want to think less about all sorts of things and just get on with it. I want to get dressed in the morning without staring at my closet, eventually going, ‘Sod it…I’ll just wear my jeans off the floor and a shirt’.

Part of this is getting to know my style a bit better. According to the closet-gurus in ‘Nothing to Wear?‘, my style is Bohemian-Chic, which sounds about right. According to ‘Colour Me Beautiful‘, my style is Natural, which translates as roughly the same thing. Both say to avoid anything too structured, too ‘classic’. So this morning I dug out a pair of tan suede Prada shoes that I’ve owned for 8 years – a treat to myself when I first started working – and have worn out of the house exactly twice. They look like the sort of thing a trendier Hilary Clinton would wear. Not. My. Style. So I’m going to eBay them, along with a few other things, and put whatever money I get aside in order to buy a nice pair of ballerina flats, which is much more my style.

One thing I’ve learned though through this extensive and frivolous research, which I pass on to you, dear readers. Molly Ringwald – who I am truly enjoying reading – is wrong about something. Not every woman should own a black cashmere turtleneck. Not everyone looks good in black (according to Colour Me Beautiful, I do…which is useful as 3/4 of my wardrobe is black). And women with boobs (34H I wear) should never, ever, EVER wear turtlenecks…cashmere or not! So the trick is to enjoy reading this sort of fluffy self-help, but remember to be bien dans sa peau, as Mireille Guiliano reminds us – good in your own skin. And my skin will never go near a turtleneck again.