Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström

Translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson.Original title: Tre sekunder. Quercus, 2010.Pages: 506.ISBN: 978 1 84916 151 0

From the publisher’s web: ‘Piet Hoffmann is the best undercover operative in the Swedish police force, but only one other man is even aware of his existence. After a drug deal he is involved in goes badly wrong, he must face the hardest mission of his life – infiltrating Sweden’s most infamous maximum-security prison.

Detective Inspector Ewert Grens is charged with investigating the drug-related killing. Unaware of Hoffmann’s real identity, he believes himself to be on the trail of a dangerous psychopath. But he cannot escape the feeling that vital information pertaining to the case has been withheld or manipulated.

Hoffmann has his insurance: wiretap recordings that implicate some of Sweden’s most prominent politicians in a corrupt conspiracy. But in Ewert Grens they might just have found the perfect weapon to eliminate him’.

Three Seconds (2009) by Roslund & Hellström is the fifth novel in the Ewert Grens series; the winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award in 2009 for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the year. I have to admit that I’ve very much enjoyed reading this thriller, although I found it somewhat irregular occasionally. A bit slow at the beginning, it evolves at a rather fast pace towards the middle and it gets back to quiet at the end. The investigation of the case is somehow predictable; maybe there is a spoiler in the book cover. The plot is  engaging, although it may have some flaws and loose ends. An absorbing book, almost impossible to put it down, it keeps your attention continuously until the last pages; undoubtedly quite a merit. But once I finished reading it I found out that it is only a compelling read, a fine book of adventures, of good guys and bad guys and, probably, a very attractive bestseller. Anyhow it was worth reading it. I may come back to another Roslund & Hellström book in the near future. This book was sent to my as a gift by Norman Price, and I thank him for that.

Three Seconds has been reviewed by Maxine at Euro Crime, Uriah/Norman at Crime Scraps, Simon Clarke at among others.


Roslund & Hellström official website

I’ll count this book for my participation on the 2011 Global Reading Challenge (Europe – Sweden) and for the 2011 Nordic Challenge.

12 thoughts on “Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström”

  1. >A very good summing up of a rather strangely uneven but exciting book, Jose Ignacio. I did not like the main character of Piet very much, and I think the reader is supposed to like and sympathise with him more than I did. I also found his family presented in a rather "schmaltzy, Hollywood" fashion. And how believable was his escape, or indeed his very efficient library book service? I don't know – but the book was definitely an enjoyable read, I wishesMaxine.

  2. >José Ignacio – Thanks for this fine review. I've been wondering whether or not to read this. I've heard good and not-so-good reviews of this one, but it sounds like a good read overall… I may just give it a try.

  3. >Maxine – I appreciate your comment. Although I had much more trouble with Ewert Grens than with Piet Hoffmann.Margot – It reminds me of the Bourne saga. If you enjoyed it, you may like this one too.

  4. >I agree with you about Ewart Grens, Jose Ignacio. After reading "Box 21" (The Vault) I was so upset and angry at him and his deputy – absolutely furious. I could not understand why the actions he took were ignored in "3 Seconds" until someone told me that there are one or two books in the series inbetween these two, which have not yet been translated. But I agree, he's horrid. Like Lief Persson's Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End (see there are very few likeable characters. The Lief Persson book is very depressing from that point of view, extremely cynical, I could not review it. (For other reasons also, for example the silly number of secret police and security networks that all were described in tedious detail.)In short, books suffer if there isn't anyone in them that one can like, even if just a little bit!Best wishesMaxine.

  5. >Very interesting comments. You have given me something to think about when considering this book

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