Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This blog is now dormant but you can read all the old posts and my new posts at Crime Scraps Review at:

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom, smoothly translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson, is a tense exciting thriller featuring two main characters.

Piet Hoffmann lives several lives, in one he is a happily married to Zofia with two children, Hugo and Rasmus, that he adores, running a successful security firm. In another he is a police informer, code name Paula, who has infiltrated Wotjek Security International, the front organization for the Polish mafia which runs a massive illegal amphetamine operation.
When a drug buy at Vastmannagatan 79 goes wrong and Piet Hoffmann's Polish associates murder an undercover Danish policeman the crime has to be covered up. Piet Hoffmann has more important work to do.

With Paula we can cut them down at one fell swoop. If he's given immunity with regard to Vastmannagatan. If he's allowed to operate fully from the inside.

Piet Hoffmann will be arrested in possession of 3 kilos of amphetamine, and once inside Aspas high security prison he will eliminate the opposition, and take control of the "closed market" of prison drug sales worth millions of kronor. His criminal record will be doctored to ensure he has the right credentials to command respect inside the prison walls.

The murder at Vastmannagatan is investigated by Ewert Grens, a lonely difficult deeply disturbed detective still grieving and struggling to overcome a traumatic event that occurred many years before. But Ewert Grens has one attribute, he is a man who never gives up.

His back was as sore as it usually was after sleeping on the sofa, his stiff leg ached when it reached the floor. He was slowly falling to bits, one day at a time, fifty-nine-year -old men who exercised too little and ate too much generally did.

Three Seconds is the fifth book by award winning journalist Anders Roslund and ex-prisoner and drug user Borge Hellstrom, one of the founders of KRIS [criminals return into society] and it won Swedish crime novel of the year in 2009. Their first book The Beast 2005 won the Nordic Glass Key, and The Vault 2005, Redemption 2006 and The Girl below the Streets 2007 were all nominated for Best Swedish crime novel.

Three Seconds is a brilliant tense thriller told from multiple perspectives, and with a narrative that drives the story forward to an exciting climax. My review copy [courtesy of the very kind Maxine of Petrona] has a typical publisher blurb on the back cover calling Roslund and Hellstrom 'the true heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as masters of Scandinavian crime' along with two other Larsson connected promotional plugs. I do hope the Quercus marketing campaign is going to concentrate on the interesting characters, the excellence of the plot, and the inside knowledge Roslund and Hellstrom bring to their novels rather than the fact that they, and Stieg Larsson are all Swedish.

Obviously any 500 page Swedish crime thriller is going to be compared with Stieg Larsson's trilogy, and while Three Seconds does also deal with corruption within the Swedish police and state, the meticulous detail related concerning library books, toilets, tulips, guns, explosives and sniper rifles is all relevant to the plot and reminded me much more of Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal than Stieg Larsson's sometimes totally irrelevant shopping lists.
Three Seconds was one of those books that seemed to dominate my life, and while I wanted to find out what happened when I reached the very satisfactory ending I felt a bit lost.
Thankfully I have a copy of The Vault [Box 21 in the USA] on my TBR shelf to deal with my addiction.

The Roslund and Hellstrom duo said in the excellent interview conducted by Ali Karim at The Rap Sheet [part one and part two] that their main job was to entertain. Three Seconds certainly does that, and is one of the most tense exciting crime thrillers I have ever read, proving once again the depth of writing talent that there is in Sweden.

Sven looked at the two men beside him. They were the same age, balding, not particularly jolly, tired but thorough, and perhaps the greatest similarity, they had lived for their work until they became their work.
The younger generation that were just starting out were not likely to be ever the same. Grens and Krantz were the sort of men who no longer had a natural place.


Blogger Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

No way I'm gooing to miss this book endorsed by Maxine and you, Norman. Will read both your reviews more carefully once I read it.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - This book is definitely going on my TBR list, too! Thanks for the reminder of it.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Great review, Norman. And thank you for so kindly mentioning me, not once but twice, I am honoured.
It is an exciting books and has some Larsson-like elements, probably more so than many others that are compared to him! But it's an exciting read in its own right. I did not like the main character as much as I think one is supposed to, and I found the wife/children far too cloyingly sentimentally portrayed. But other than that, I thought it a great read. I like your quote at the end of your review, I know how they feel!

5:54 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot and Jose Ignacio. Three Seconds is a long book but reads much shorter and I am sure you will be hooked by it.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine, you are definitely worth mentioning. ;o)
I must admit I was able to identify much more with Ewert Grens, a limping 59 year old wreck, than Larsson's virile hero and heroine!

6:40 AM  

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