BOOKS: Talent wars turn deadly - In a French HR thriller, our hero finds himself locked into a fight to the death to win a choice job James Stuart enjoys an insightful parody.

BOOKS: Talent wars turn deadly - In a French HR thriller, our hero finds himself locked into a fight to the death to win a choice job James Stuart enjoys an insightful parody. - Head Hunters; By Michel Crespy; Harvill pounds 10.99

by JAMES STUART, a director of Leonard Hull International, anexecutive search firm dedicated to board personnel

Head Hunters; By Michel Crespy; Harvill pounds 10.99

Michel Crespy's novel has enjoyed considerable success in his native France, winning that country's 2001 Grand Prix for thrillers. Fluently translated by John Brownjohn, it's a gripping read with more than a flavour of an executive version of Lord of the Flies. In addition, Crespy's description of some of the methods of senior executive searches, such as psychometric testing and interviewing, are probably of more use than many a self-help book on the same topics.

Jerome Carceville, a high-flying senior executive reared in the elite Grandes Ecoles of France, finds himself made unceremoniously redundant by his blue-chip employer. With bills to pay, he immediately embarks on a job search. But thanks to his unemployed status, he finds that those whose doors were previously open to him now spurn him politely.

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