Headhunters

A collision between two vehicles is basic physics.

The first thing I noticed was that the protagonist of this story isn’t really the good guy. And the police only gets involved near the end of the book. This makes Headhunters more of a cat and mouse game, in which it’s unclear who’s cat and who’s mouse. It also made me swap sympathies several times (although sympathies is maybe put down too strongly. Sometimes I simply disliked one of the characters less than the other).

Roger Brown is a headhunter and part time art thief. He thinks he hit the jack pot in both categories when he meets Clas Grave. But the man turns out to be a booby trapped gift and suddenly Roger needs to fight for his life. Some methods he uses for that are quite creative and out there, but he showed he’s a smart shark before, so all right, I won’t wonder how much a human body and mind can take.

There are several twists in a not so large story (265 pages) that keeps the tempo up. They are smartly done but near the end they follow each other very fast and it just turns into a blur. Everyone outsmarted each other, hurray.

My mother told me I started with the wrong Jo Nesbo. Sir, we will meet again.

Headhunters, Jo Nesbo, Harvill Secker 2011

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The phone call came late one August afternoon as my older sister Gracie and I sat out on the back porch shucking the sweet corn into the big tin buckets.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet won me over because its looks. It’s a big green book full of illustrations and scribbles in the margins. That the blurb on the back said it was like Little Miss Sunshine in a book, mixed in with some other comparisons, was just a plus.

T.S. Spivet (Tecumseh Sparrow) is a smart twelve year old boy who likes to make maps. Of everything. Where all the MacDonalds in Ohio are, but also the insides of a beetle. His mother is a scientist, his father owns the ranch they live in the middle of nowhere and there’s an older sister who’s miserable because they live in the middle of nowhere. T.S. has a teacher who’s very enthusiastic about his mapping skills and -without informing T.S.- sent them away for an award. The above mentioned phone call turns out to be The Smithsonian who doesn’t know T.S. is a twelve-year old and rewarded him with the award. And oh, if he can come over to do a speech.

And that T.S. does. He starts off on a trip by freight train to get to Washington. What follows is an ode to (mid-)America and a lot of thoughts from a smart twelve year old. Whenever it gets close to annoying (I ignored some of the scribbles in the margins first time round), Larsen manages to turn things around and keep it cute. A lesson in growing up and taking responsibilities.

It’s a charming little story that turns big because of its surroundings. Do read it.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, Reif Larsen, Harvel Secker 2009