Saturday, January 15, 2011

Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellstrom

Three seconds formed part of my holiday reading.  I could only get hold of it in hardcover, but it was well worth lugging around.  It is a publication from Swedish duo Roslund and Hellstrom.  The jacket cover reveals Anders Roslund to be an award winning journalist and Borge Hellstrom is tantalizingly described as an ex-criminal.

The novel is about Piet Hoffman who is an "infiltrator" that is, he is someone with a criminal pedigree who the Swedish government has unofficially, off the books, employed to infiltrate major criminal syndicates, provide intelligence and bring those criminal organisations down.  The novel is also about the man who "runs" Piet, the bureaucrats who manipulate him and the police murder investigator  who attempts to unravel the whole sordid mess.

Piet who has been run in this capacity for nine years is now required to enter one of Sweden's high security prisons, and take over the very lucrative amphetamine drug trade in the prison.  Piet's criminal and survival instincts are fascinating.  From the outset he knows that he can trust no one: not the criminal organisation he has successfully infiltrated for the past nine years, not his handler and certainly not the government who he feels certain will burn him the moment it becomes expedient to do so.  Piet has a parallel life as a husband and a father, that he stands to lose if things go wrong.  Things go very wrong.

Why did I enjoy this book so much?  In a world where the bookstore shelves are groaning with crime fiction and thrillers, Three Seconds offers something original.  The details provided in the book could only result from some exhaustive research and personal experience and so ring alarmingly true.  And while the pace is fabulous and frenetic, the authors successfully convey aspects of the human toll associated with law enforcement in all of its forms.  It's a ripping good yarn on the one hand but also left this reader with some lingering reflections on what might actually be going on behind the scenes in attempts to combat major crime.

Finally I would like to thank Zohar over at Man of la Book who recommended Three Seconds.


  1. I'm not really into crime or mystery novels, but this one does sound interesting. The fact that it's not written by James Patterson makes it even more appealing.

  2. I have to say that the fact that one of the authors is an "ex-criminal" is intersting and would add a certain air of authenticity to the story!


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