Review: Three Seconds
by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published: by SilverOak, January 2011
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Rating: 5 of 5
A drug deal involving police informant and Polish mafia infiltrator Piet Hoffman goes wrong resulting in a murder. Piet is on a secret assignment to take control of the drug distribution network in Aspsås prison. To accomplish the takeover Piet, an ex-con, must go undercover inside the prison by being arrested for drug possession.
When Detective Inspector Ewert Grens of the Swedish police begins investigating the murder case he runs into a series of roadblocks. Someone high up in the government doesn’t want him to solve this case. As Grens begins to uncover the lies and corruption, Piet’s handlers fear they will be exposed and deny his existence. He becomes trapped in prison, exposed as an informant and his life is in danger.
The story starts out fast with little background or set-up. We are quickly introduced to many characters. Their development takes place as the story unfolds. Piet, our informant, is married and has two small children. The marriage seems happy, their life appears ‘normal’, except his wife does not know that his job is a front and he works for the police. She thinks he has a security firm. As I read, I kept asking myself what would make a man agree to do this kind of job when he has so much to lose. Ewert Grens, the police inspector, is driven to find answers. He will not back off the investigation, and it isn’t until late in the book that we understand why.
The authors do a great job building suspense and tension. The pace was intense and quick moving. Details are not glossed over and we are given much insight into the illegal drug trade, corruption and a good look inside the Swedish prison system. More sensitive readers may find some parts rather graphic. When dealing with drug trafficking, mobsters and prison inmates it can be quite violent, gritty and dark.
Throughout the story our view of good guys and bad guys gets turned upside down. There is much corruption within the police department and among elected officials. The authors extensively researched their material speaking with police, prison personnel and explosive experts to name a few. The factual portions of the novel read like a social commentary on the prison system and the police department. To quote the authors:
Our books are 50% true and 50% fiction. The way the police system works In Three Seconds is correct, we spoke to a number of police officers/handlers to tell us how they worked with their best informants. Simply put, the background in our book is true and the plot is fiction. – Roslund & Hellström
Three Seconds was a #1 best seller in Sweden and the winner of an award for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the year in 2009.
Highly recommended especially for readers who enjoy thrillers and crime novels.
Source: ARC provided by Barnes & Noble First Look for discussion group and review.