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The Headhunters [Paperback]

Peter Lovesey
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Aug 2009

Jo and Gemma are friends who meet for coffee every Saturday to gossip and discuss the state of the world. At one such meeting, Gemma mentions killing her boss and Jo goes along with the joke. But Jo is not amused when she finds a real body on the beach at Selsey soon afterwards - an unidentified nearly-naked woman, who has been drowned.

It take DCI Hen Mallin and her team some time to discover who the woman is, and as they are investigating, Jo and Gemma are getting into more trouble - they keep coming across dead bodies...

Peter Lovesey's thirtieth novel explores one of his favourite themes - the innocent caught up in sinister events. His previous Hen Mallin book, The Circle, was described by Gerald Kaufman in The Scotsman as 'this gem of a book ... the superb Peter Lovesey provides yet another novel of unalloyed delight.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075154129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751541298
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Lovesey was born in Middlesex and studied at Hampton Grammar School and Reading University, where he met his wife Jax. He won a competition with his first crime fiction novel, Wobble to Death, and has never looked back, with his numerous books winning and being shortlisted for nearly all the prizes in the international crime writing world. He was Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association and has been presented with Lifetime Achievement awards both in the UK and the US.

Product Description


Peter Lovesey excels in portraying ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, and The Headhunters is a splendid example... This is a very cleverly constructed mystery with well-rounded characters, and it confirms Lovesey's place in the top echelon of British crime writers (Sunday Telegraph)

Peter Lovesey has written 30 crime novels, many of them adapted for television or film; he has won loads of awards and been translated into more than 20 languages; he's hugely respected by his fellow writers, yet hasn't quite captured the public acclaim (The Times)

A sharp little vignette of contemporary England (Literary Review)

What will especially please those who treasure puzzle mysteries is the ingenuity of the plot. Lovesey has figured out how to update the traditional mystery while retaining the features that made it so entertaining. The characters are thoroughly 21st cent ('Peter Lovesey is one of the UK's most consummate authors and you know that whenever you pick up a book by him that you are bound to be enthralled. In his latest novel The Headhunters this is no exception')

Book Description

A suspenseful new standalone from the consistently remarkable crime author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Old Master' produces another excellent read. 24 April 2008
By G. J. Oxley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book is the second to feature Peter Lovesey's cigarillo-smoking detective Hen Mallin in a leading role - the first being 2005's 'The Circle' - although she played minor parts in the last two Peter Diamond novels 'The House Sitter' and `The Secret Hangman'.

`The Headhunters' has obvious parallels with Lovesey's World War II thriller `On the Edge', in that two women (and in this case a guy) discuss murdering an objectionable man. But here, they're only joking - except maybe one of them actually isn't! From this beginning, Lovesey spins a marvellous yarn, and we discover details of murders as the book progresses...

There's a nice bit of wrong-footing in here that echoes another of Peter's books, `The False Inspector Dew' (I don't want to spoil anything, but if you read it you'll see what I mean) - a novel that features one of the best twists EVER in crime fiction.

This traditional English detective novel is a throwback to an earlier age - but given a modern spin. If you fancy a change from reading the brilliant, but sometimes brutal, thrillers of, say, Michael Connelly or James Lee Burke, you could do far worse that try this excellent volume. Having said that, `The Headhunters' is not as good as the books in his other contemporary series, featuring detective Peter Diamond. But then it would be impossible for him to top `The Last Detective', `Bloodhounds' or `The Vault' etc for virtuoso storytelling.

Peter Lovesey has given me greater pleasure than any other writer operating in the crime/detective/suspense field. Each of his books is written with a beautifully sure touch that makes reading him an absolute joy. And among his other formidable gifts is his mastery of the unspottable twist. Astonishingly he is 72 years old this year, and still producing wonderful fiction in both the longer and shorter formats. I selfishly wish him the best of writing health and hope to enjoy a new book a year from him for at least another 20 years!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Double Entendre 26 April 2009
The latest in the Inspector Hen Mallin series brings forth an unusual story, especially so since it shows how she can leap to wrong conclusions {along with the reader) based on clues both obvious and murky. But the show must go on, and she, along with her police team, plod along from clue to clue in this peculiar but intriguing novel.

It begins with a double date during which one of the women brings up the subject of her boss at a printing works. She says he tries to portray himself as the "good guy," leaving her to do the dirty work. She brings up the possibility of murdering him, and the other three join in jokingly with various methods for the "perfect murder." Then the other woman, taking a walk along the beach, discovers the first of three bodies. Later she's in on the find of two others. All three victims have been forcibly drowned.

The number of suspects abound, as Hen Mallin leads the investigation, inevitably along several false leads. One of the possible suspects is the boyfriend of the woman who found the initial body (before she tripped over the other two). From the initial case on it becomes clearer that there is a serial killer loose. The plot development is so quirky, the reader is kept off balance throughout, right up to the unanticipated denouement. The writing is spare and the story moves along swiftly. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Bluebell TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book but was a little disappointed as I didn't think it was as gripping as two of Peter Lovesey's other books that I've read: Diamond Dust and The House Sitter, both of which were excellent. It is particularly the first third of The Headhunters that I felt dragged a bit with a lot about the social lives of the two twenty-something girls. The book did get going after that and became more pacy, however the final revelation of who-dunnit came out of the blue and was not very convincing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A twisting tale 18 Nov 2008
By Lynette Baines VINE VOICE
Jo & Gemma sit in a café planning ways to murder Gemma's irritating boss. Friends Rick & Jake join in the game & they're soon calling themselves the Headhunters. The laughter stops when Jo finds a woman's half-naked body on the beach, and when Gemma's boss disappears, & another body is discovered, the game becomes serious. This is an intriguing mystery. I suspected most of the main characters at some point. DCI Hen Mallin, who featured in a previous novel, The Circle, is the investigating officer, but this isn't a traditional police procedural. Jo finds herself becoming more & more involved with Gemma's flights of fancy & as the plot thickens, she can't tell who to trust. Lovesey's plot is entertaining, wonderfully convoluted & full of red herrings.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing 6 Oct 2009
Inexplicably to me, this book was recommended as a summer read on Radio 4. Much of it consists of clunky and tedious, not to say ludicrous, dialogue between the female protagonists, eg : 'That line she gave me about being embarrassed by all his interest was a load of horse hooey.' (p.43) Horse hooey? Who on earth talks like that? The deaths have no emotional impact at all, so that the bodies may as well be mannequins. There is no sense of horror or poignancy, no sense that anyone may be affected by them. And I'm afraid that I detected a whiff of misogyny in the depiction of the female detective, Hen, whose defining characteristics are that she is short, dumpy, smokes cigarillos, and is utterly useless at her job, continually chasing the wrong suspects. And who on earth goes to conferences for 3 weeks?
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