Sunday 30 September 2018



WHEN HEADHUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED (a concise, pacy read): Nick Thorneycroft is a British headhunter working in Luxembourg. His company asks him to recruit a high-flying executive for the company's Russian business. The best candidate turns out to be smart, beautiful... and mysterious. Soon the effects of Russia’s political upheaval, and the arrival of an ex-girlfriend who won’t leave him alone, make Nick’s Luxembourg life increasingly perilous; worlds collide in this gripping, atmospheric tale.

"A very readable Euro thriller with a strong sense of setting. This is well worth a read, and has shades of Elmore Leonard and other hard-boiled American detective writers. But it’s also up to date, with an insight into modern Euro-crime which is all too accurate." Katharine Quarmby, award-winning writer, TV producer and journalist.

Narrator - Simon Vance

I've enjoyed Daniel Pembrey's work before with his Harbour Master series, but sadly on this occasion not this one. I think The Candidate pre-dates the ones I've enjoyed.

It was an Audible version which may have contributed a bit to my overall state of apathy regarding the book, as the narration grated, especially when encountering Russian characters in the story. I couldn't help but think of the comedy series Allo Allo every time our accent deviated from the gruff Northern tone of Nick Thorneycroft. Over-exaggerated in my opinion thus losing any potency they may have had.

My main issue though was a lack of investment in the story. It wasn't badly written, it flowed and had a few things going on - headhunter Nick is trying to get a Russian candidate lined up for a high profile position at his money management company in Luxembourg. It's a race to get the deal done, before she's poached by a rival. He wakes up one morning with a limited memory of the night before and a pair of women's knickers on his apartment floor, but no women. Has he been spiked? Is there a spy camera in his ceiling light? Who is the Russian, what's her background? Why is his on/off on/off girlfriend pestering him and back in town? Why does he get temporarily kidnapped? What are the motives of his bosses at the firm, one keen and eager to get the deal done, the other a bit less frantic?
What's the imminent Russian election got to do with things? Why did I care about any of this?

I didn't.

This might work better for others than me. Well from the comment above from Katharine Quarmby shows it definitely does. But a comparison with Elmore Leonard? Really - not for me anyway.

2.5 from 5

Pembrey's The Harbour Master  The Harbour Master II: The Maze and The Harbour Master III: Ransom were enjoyed back in 2014 and 2015

Read (listened to) - September, 2018
Published - 2013
Page count - 142 (3 hours 1 minute Audio time)
Source - Audible purchase probably free or on a free trial
Format - Audio via laptop and iPhone


  1. A comparison with Elmore Leonard is certainly high praise but then each writer to his or her own craft. The premise of the novel sounds interesting, though.

    1. I was always sucked in by books that were blurbed - like Elmore Leonard, or Charles Willeford or the like. Some of them blatantly trying to sell a book off another man's name. I don't for one minute believe that is what has happened here.

      I have enjoyed Daniel Pembrey's writing before and will do again, but I definitely don't see any similarities between the two authors. I'm not saying one is better than the other either. I just think they have written totally different styles of books.

      This story may work better for you than it did for me, Prashant and I hope I haven't put you off.

    2. Not at all, Col. I know you have also reviewed Daniel Pembrey's books before.

    3. I'll definitely be reading him again in the future also.

  2. I've got this somewhere in the stacks. Sorry to hear it didn't float your boat. I'll hope for better luck when I get to it.

    1. You'll probably enjoy it more than me I reckon.

  3. I do want to try one of Daniel Pembrey's books sometime. Too bad this one did not work for you.

    1. I will read more from Pembrey in future Tracy. Probably format more than story at fault here.