Three Seconds

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Dark, suspenseful, and more riveting than any thriller at the local cineplex, THREE SECONDS is the latest novel from best-selling Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström-heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime.

Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he's become a key player in their attempt to take...

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Three Seconds

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Overview

Dark, suspenseful, and more riveting than any thriller at the local cineplex, THREE SECONDS is the latest novel from best-selling Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström-heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime.

Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he's become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden's prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country's most notorious jail.

But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens--a man who never gives up until he's cracked the case. Grens's determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman's true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth.

Winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' 2009 award for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, and a #1 bestseller there, THREE SECONDS captures a nefarious world of betrayal and violence, where a wise man trusts no one and even the most valuable agent can be “burned.”

Winner of the 2011 CWA International Dagger Award

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  • Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström
    Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ex-con Piet Hoffmann, who for the past nine years has led a double life as a family man and a police snitch infiltrating the Stockholm drug world, takes on his most dangerous assignment yet in Roslund and Hellström's thrilling follow-up to Box 21. Hoffmann must go undercover at Aspsås, a maximum security prison, and take control of the methamphetamine sales so the police can dismantle the spread of drugs from the inside out. The murder of a man during one of Hoffmann's preliminary meetings with the members of Wojtek, the local Polish mafia, threatens the entire plan and puts Det. Supt. Ewert Grens, the returning hero from Box, on the case. Once Hoffmann steps inside the prison walls all hell breaks loose, and he's forced to fend for himself when it appears that everyone on either side of the law wants him dead. The authors ratchet the suspense beautifully right up to the final, inevitable confrontation. (Jan.)
BOOKLIST
Piet Hoffman is a devoted husband and the father of two young sons. He’s also an ex-con who has been working undercover for the Stockholm police for nine years. Code named “Paula,” Piet has risen through the ranks of the Polish mafia and is chosen to lead the Poles’ effort to control the supply of amphetamines in Sweden’s prisons. To do that, Paula must get himself arrested and sent to a maximum security prison, wipe out the existing supplier, and keep himself alive until he has all the information needed for the police to move on the gang. Roslund, a former journalist, and Hellstrom, a former criminal, have concocted a brilliant thriller that posits a nearly literal invasion of Sweden by East European criminals allied with former state security agents. Combine that with a morally compromised police and Ministry of Justice effort to combat the invasion, and you have a genuine crisis. Piet’s growing fear of discovery or betrayal and his angst at his beloved wife’s ignorance of his work ratchet up the story’s tension page by page and make the novel extremely difficult to put down. Named the Swedish Crime Novel of the Year in 2009, Three Seconds puts Roslund and Hellstrom in the company of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. Crime fiction rarely gets as good as this. --(Thomas Gaughan)
Library Journal
Swedish duo Roslund and Hellström (www.roslund-hellstrom.com) return with the adventures of Detective Inspector Ewert Grens, last seen in Box 21 (2009), a title not currently available on audio. Here, Grens is inadvertently about to expose the undercover work of the Swedish police and their most valuable operative, Piet Hoffman, as they attempt to thwart a drug operation in prison. Hoffman is determined that this be his final undercover job before he leaves this life behind; Grens just wants to solve a murder Hoffman may have witnessed. Audie Award winner Christopher Lane (Charlie Wilson's War) does a fine job of bringing to life the cast of primarily male characters, reserving a lower, stilted voice for the book's villains. Recommended for all fans of Scandinavian crime fiction. ["Give this to Stieg Larsson fans and any reader fond of morally complex thrillers," read the review of the SilverOak hc, LJ 12/10, which was a No. 1 best seller in Sweden and won that country's 2009 award for best crime novel; the SilverOak pb will be released in September.—Ed.]—Deb West, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
Library Journal
The shady dealings between the Swedish police and their deep-cover informants propel the latest thriller from the writing team of Roslund and Hellström (Box 21). Ex-con Piet Hoffman, now a "covert human intelligence source" for Stockholm City Police, is close to breaking up the Polish Mafia's attempt to control drug distribution in Sweden's prisons. When the operative is involved in a botched drug deal that leads to murder, investigating detective Ewert Grens inadvertently threatens to derail the mission. Afraid that Hoffman will disclose the government's illegal involvement in his assignment, his handlers blow his cover while he's trapped in a maximum-security lockup. With the police, Mafia, and prisoners all wanting him dead, Hoffman makes Grens an unwitting tool in his desperate plan for escape. VERDICT Readers who persevere through the glacial pace of the book's first third will be rewarded with a terrific, nail-biting climax that demonstrates why it won the prize for Sweden's best crime novel in 2009. Give this to Stieg Larsson fans and any reader fond of morally complex thrillers. [Silver Oak is the new fiction imprint of Sterling and Quercus.—Ed.]—Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie P.L., IL
From the Publisher
"A nail biter of a book."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Explosive... Three Seconds does Stieg Larsson one better."—Carol Memmott, USA Today

"[A] sprawling and often gripping thriller.... The gritty details of drug dealing, of prison life and of the relations between cops and informants are all rendered with convincing authority in Three Seconds."—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

"Twisty plot makes for propulsive reading."—Entertainment Weekly

"Thrill-a-minute cat and mouse game... a grimly amoral tale."—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"The action quickly draws you in and continues to grip you to the final chapters of the novel. The authors have something to say, and Three Seconds proves to be an excellent way of doing it."—Summer Moore, AP

"It's like Traffic on the Swedish-Polish border, but everything from the weather to the criminals' hearts is a little colder."—People magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402785924
  • Publisher: SilverOak
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning journalist Anders Roslund and ex-criminal Börge Hellström are Sweden’s most acclaimed fiction duo. Their unique ability to combine inside knowledge of the brutal reality of criminal life with searing social criticism in complex, intelligent plots has put them at the forefront of modern Scandinavian crime writing. In 2009, Three Seconds was awarded the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award for Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, previously won by both Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, and it was a top 10 best seller in Sweden for eight months.

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Read an Excerpt

He had dreamt about the hole. For four nights in a row, the straight
edges in the dust on the shelf behind his desk had become a yawning,
bottomless hole and no matter where he was or how much he tried to
get away, he was drawn towards the black hole and then just as he
started to fall, he woke up breathless on the floor behind the corduroy
sofa, his back slippery with sweat.
It was half past four and already warm and bright in the courtyard
Of Kronoberg. Ewert Grens went out into the corridor and over to the
small pantry, where a blue J-cloth was hanging from the tap. He wet it
and went back to the office and the hole that was much smaller in
reality. So many hours, such a large part of his day for thirty-five years
had revolved around a time that no longer existed. With the wet cloth
he wiped over the long, hard edges that marked where the cassette
recorder he had been given for his twenty-fifth birthday had stood, then
the considerably short edges from the cassettes and the photo, even the
squares that had been the two loudspeakers, which were kind of
beautiful in their clarity.
And now there wasn't even dust.
He moved a cactus plant from the window sill, the files from the
floor– the majority of which contained long-since completed
preliminary investigations that should have been filed somewhere – and
filled every tiny space on the now empty shelves so that he wouldn't
need to fall any more; the hole had gone and if there wasn't a hole,
there couldn't be a bottomless pit.
A cup of black coffee, the air was still full of swirling dust particles
looking for a new home and it didn't taste as good as usual, as if the
dust had dissolved in the brown liquid; it even looked a shade lighter.
He left early – he wanted straight answers and prisoners who were
still sleepy were often less mouthy, not so insolent and scornful;
interviews were either a power struggle or an attempt to gain
confidence and he didn't have time to build up trust. He drove out of
slowed when he passed Haga and the large cemetery on the left,
hesitated before continuing straight on and accelerating again. He
could turn off the road on the way back, drive slowly past the people
with plants and flowers in one hand and a watering can in the other.
It was still thirty kilometres to the prison that he had visited at least
twice a year for the past three decades. As a policeman in Stockholm he
would regularly be involved in investigations that ended up there,
questioning, prison transport, there was always someone who knew
something and someone who had seen something but the hatred of
uniforms was greater there than anywhere else and their fear of the
consequences justified, as a grass never survived long in an enclosed
space, so the most usual answer on the recorder was a sneering laugh or
simply empty silence.
Yesterday, Ewert Grens had met and written off two of three names
on the periphery of the investigation who owned security firms with
official links to Wojtek International. He had drunk coffee with a
certain Maciej Bosacki in Odensala outside Marsta, and more coffee
with Karl Lager in Sodertalje and after only a couple of minutes at each
table had known that they didn't do executions in city centre flats.
Far in the distance, the mighty wall.
He had on occasion walked under the huge prison yard through a
network of passages and each time he had met people he avoided in
reality, in life. He had taken days and years from them, and he
understood why they spat at him, he even respected it, but it did not
affect him, they had all pissed on other people and in Ewert Grens's
world, anyone who felt they had the right to harm someone else should
have the balls to stand up for it later.
The grey concrete grew longer, higher.
He had one name left on the brown-stained paper. Piet Hoffmann,
previously convicted of aiming and firing at a policeman, and who had
then been granted a gun licence all the same. Something was amiss.
Ewert Grens parked the car and walked over to the prison entrance
and the prisoner who would shortly be sitting in front of him.
__________
It didn't feel right.
He didn't know why. Maybe it was too quiet. Maybe he was getting
locked into his own head as well.
He had fought off any thoughts that carried Zofia with them, which
had been worst around two in the morning, just before it started to get
light. He had got up, like before, chin-ups, jumping with his feet
together until the sweat poured from his forehead and down his chest.
He should be relaxed. Wojtek had got their reports, three days in a
row. He had stamped out and taken over. From this afternoon, he
would be getting bigger deliveries and selling more.
'Morning, Hoffmann.'
'Morning.'
But he couldn't relax. Something was bothering him, something that
demanded space and couldn't be reasoned away.
He was scared.
The doors had been unlocked, his neighbours were moving around
out there, he couldn't see them but they were there, shouting and
whispering. The sock between the door and the doorframe, the chair in
front of the threshold, the pillow under the covers.
Two minutes past seven. Eighteen minutes to go.
He pressed himself against the wall.
__________
The older man at central security studied his police ID, typed
something on a computer, sighed.
'Questioning, you say?'
'Yes.'
'Grens.'
'Yes.'
'Piet Hoffmann?'
'I've reserved a room. So it would be great if you could let me in. So
I could get to it.'
The older man was in no rush. He lifted the phone and punched in
a number.
'You'll have to wait a moment. There's something I need to check.'
__________
It took fourteen minutes.
Then all hell let loose.
The door was pulled open. One second. The chair was kicked over. One
second. Stefan passed close to him on the right, a screwdriver in his fist.
There's a moment left, a beat, people always experience half a second in
such different ways.
There were probably four of them.
He had seen this happen several times, even taken part himself
twice.
Someone ran in with a screwdriver, a table leg, a cut piece of metal.
And straight behind, more hands to punch or kill. Two out in the
corridor, always at a distance to keep watch.
The pillow and sweatshirt under the covers, his two and half seconds
were over, his protection, his escape.
One blow.
He wouldn't manage more.
One single blow, right elbow to the carotid receptors on the left side of
the throat, a hard blow right there and Stefan's blood pressure would rocket,
he would collapse, faint.
His heavy body fell to the floor, blocking the door for the next pair
of balled fists, a sharp piece of metal from the workshop, Karol Tomasz
hit out in the air with it in order to keep his balance. Piet Hoffmann
squeezed out between the doorframe and a shoulder that still hadn't
quite fathomed where the person who was going to die was hiding. He
ran out into the corridor between the two who were standing guard and
on towards the closed door of the security office.
They know.
He ran and looked round, they were standing there.
They know.
He opened the door and went into the screws' room and someone
roared stukatj behind him and the principal prison officer shouted get
the hell out of here. He probably didn't shout anything himself, he
couldn't be certain but it didn't feel like it, he stayed where he was in
front of the closed door and whispered I want to be put in isolation, and
when they didn't react, he said a bit louder I want a P18 and when
none of the bloody staring guards moved at all, in spite of everything he
did scream, now, you fuckers, presumably that's what he did, I need to be
in isolation now.
__________
Ewert Grens sat on a chair in the visiting room and looked at a roll of
toilet paper on the floor by the bed and a mattress that was covered in
plastic and stuck out over the end of the frame – fear and longing that
for one hour every month was distilled down to two bodies holding
each other tight. He moved over to the window, not much of a view: a
couple of crude bars edged with barbed wire and further back, the
lower part of a thick grey concrete wall. He sat down again, the
restlessness that was always in him and never let him relax. He played
with the black cassette recorder that stood in the middle of the table
every time he came here to question people who hadn't seen or heard
anything; he remembered the faces as they came closer and lowered
their voices, stared at the floor, full of hate, until he shut off. He wasn't
sure that any of the interviews he'd done in this room had ever really
helped him to solve an investigation.
There was a knock at the door and a man came in. According to the
documents, Hoffmann was not yet middle-aged, so this was someone
else, considerably older and in a blue prison uniform.
'Lennart Oscarsson. Governor of Aspsas.'
Grens took his outstretched hand and smiled.
'Well blow me down, the last time we met you were just a lowly
principal officer. You've come up in the world. Have you managed to
let any more go?'
A few years in a couple of seconds.
They were there, back to the time when Principal Prison Officer
LennartOscarsson had granted a convicted, relapsed paedophile an
escorted hospital visit, a nonce who had done a runner while he was
being transported and murdered a five-year-old girl.
'Last time we met, you were just a detective superintendent. And
now . . . you still are?'
'Yes. You need to make major mistakes to be kicked up the arse.'
Grens stood on the other side of the table and waited for more
sarcasm, something just as funny, but it didn't come. He'd seen it as
soon as Oscarsson entered the room – the governor seemed distant,
unfocused, his mind elsewhere.
'You're here to talk to Hoffmann.'
'Yes.'
'I've just come from the hospital wing. You can't see him.'
'I'm sorry, I notified you of my visit yesterday and he was fit as a
fiddle then.'
'They were hospitalised last night.'
'They?'
'Three so far. Soaring temperatures. We don't know what it is. The
prison doctor has decided that they should be barrier-nursed. They are
not permitted to see anyone at all until we know what it is.'
Ewert Grens gave a loud sigh.
'How long?'
'Three, maybe four days. That's all I can say at the moment.'
They looked at each other, there wasn't much more to say and they
were just getting ready to go when a piercing noise ripped through the
air. The black square of plastic on Oscarsson's hip flashed red, one flash
for every loud bleep.
The governor grabbed the alarm that hung on his belt and read the
display, his face aghast at first, then stressed and evasive.
'Sorry, I've got to go.'
He was already on his way out.
'Something has obviously happened. Can you find your own way
out?'
__________
Lennart Oscarsson ran towards the stairs, down and along the passage
towards the prison units. Checked the alarm display again.
G2.
Block G, first floor.
That was where he was.
The prisoner he had just lied about on the explicit order of the head
of the Prison and Probation Service.
He had shouted at them and then sat down on the floor.
They had reacted after a while – one of the screws had locked the
door from the inside and stayed by the glass window to keep an eye on
the men out in the corridor, and another had rung central security and
asked for assistance from the prison riot squad to escort a prisoner to an
isolation cell following a supposed threat.
He had moved to a chair and was now partially hidden from the
people circling outside who whispered stukatjsufficiently loud for him
to hear as they passed.
Stukatj.
Grass.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 725 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(195)

4 Star

(148)

3 Star

(156)

2 Star

(126)

1 Star

(100)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 725 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2010

    Highly Recommended.

    Three Seconds is a tour de force about an ex-con turned undercover operative who must infiltrate the Polish mafia in order to stop drug distribution inside the prison system. In order to do this he must commit a crime and go back inside Sweden's most brutal prisons. The pace is unrelenting and the tension rachets up until the very explosive end. This is crime fiction at its most compelling.

    32 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 4, 2010

    Great Read - Don't Miss it!!

    The plot of Three Seconds kept my attention the whole way through. In fact, I had several nights of staying up late reading. I was not familiar with these Swedish authors and had never read any of their works. However, I am definitely going to look for more novels which they have published. After having read all three of Stieg Larsson's trilogy I wondered if it would be somewhat similar, but quickly found that, although it was a mystery set in Sweden, it was totally unlike Larsson's stories. The story was intriguing and moved at a good pace. The characters were well defined and although they had Swedish names (of course) they were still identifiable and easy to keep track of. Piet Hoffman is a character who catches your interest from the beginning. I was pulling for him through out, although I had second thoughts at times. I felt the plot moved along very well and at no time did I get bored with the tedium of details. Several times I was caught up in surprise at the turn of events. Although Hoffman spends time in prison and those details are dealt with clearly, it nevertheless does not get bogged down in grim revelations about prison life other than those relative to the tale. The plot kept running on till the very end and kept this reader very involved. I belong to a book club group and have definitely recommended it to my friends. Sometimes I find that I get bored with tedious facts in some novels, but this was never the case with Three Seconds. I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries.

    24 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Not In This Millennium

    I eagerly awaited the arrival of this book, since the promotional write-up had implied that it would be enjoyed by those who enjoyed the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Unfortunately, I only made it approximately a quarter of the way through the book, as I had a difficult time getting into the story, and I found the main characters to be either uninteresting or unappealing. Furthermore, while I understand that Poland is a ferry-ride neighbor from Sweden, the authors' habit of maintaining some of the dialogue in Polish lost its charm quickly. Although I realize that many others have enjoyed this book, it should not try to ride on the coattails of the late, great Stieg Larsson.

    18 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

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    Intense and Intelligent Swedish Thriller!

    Ex-con Piet Hoffman is a covert informant for the Swedish police. He's infiltrated the Polish mafia and is working his way to the top bosses when someone is murdered during a drug deal gone bad. Eric Wilson, Piet's handler, now wants him to go deeper into the mafia to uncover their plan to take control of illegal drug distribution within the Swedish prison system.

    Years earlier when they recruited him, Piet had nothing to lose and was willing to take on any assignment despite the danger. Now that he's married with a family, he's more reluctant but agrees to take on his deadliest mission, despite the fact that using criminals for police investigations is not actually approved of in Sweden. Meeting with his handler and a very secret group of government officials, he extracts the promise that if he is successful, he'll be free of his commitment to the police and he and his family will be relocated outside the country, similar to our Witness Protection Program.

    Problems arise when Detective Inspector Ewert Grens, a sad and lonely colleague of Eric Wilson, is assigned to investigate the murder. Grens works doggedly despite the roadblocks thrown in his way to keep him from finding out Hoffman's identity and destroying Hoffman's chance of success. Hoffman's life hangs in the balance between the Polish mafia and the government group that's supposed to be protecting him that now wants him dead.

    If you're a fan of the late Stieg Larsson and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO series, this book won't disappoint. The interesting duo of journalist Roslund and ex-criminal Hellstrom has created an intense and intelligent Swedish police procedural that gives the reader a glimpse into the Swedish criminal world and prison system.

    If you're only going to read one book in January, THREE SECONDS should be the one! Lynn Kimmerle

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    Fast paced and hard to put down!

    I read this ARC for the Barnes and Noble First Look. I did not start with high expectations and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book! The book is full of suspence and thrills and I thought the authors did a wonder job of setting the characters up and then just taking off with the story. I stayed up late a couple of nights because I was so excited to read on and finished it before the timeline of the First Look discussion. If you like suspence and action, this book is for you!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2010

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    Intense police thriller delivers!

    FACTS: Sweden is a nation of laws and rights. Criminal organizations profit from illegal trade -- drug distribution being one. Swedish prisons are underfunded, understaffed. Drugged inmates are easier -- cheaper -- to control. Police supervisory authority believes conventional intelligence methods are insufficient to combat organized crime. To infiltrate criminal organizations, the police need spies. Swedish police cannot engage in criminal activity. Only real criminals can pose as criminals. How far will criminal organizations go to kill a snitch? How far will police authority go to deny it employs criminals? What must a man -- caught in the middle -- do to survive, to "not die yet"? THREE SECONDS provides the explosive answers in a taut human drama set in the limbo of Swedish law versus Swedish need. A relentless nerve-wracking police thriller right up there with DAY OF THE JACKAL and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. One of the best books I've read -- ever.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't forget to breathe!

    THREE SECONDS is a gripping, complex, compelling look into the life of Piet Hoffman, a Swedish Police informant, planted inside a Swedish prison to undermine a Polish mafia drug ring. After years of hard work, Piet finally gains the trust of a respected businessman who fronts the Polish mob. This is an exciting, well-plotted, and innovative book with lots of interesting details and drama to make this a totally enjoyable read. The author did a fabulous job researching and writing an entertaining story to keep the reader breathing in short breaths, if they remember to breathe at all.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

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    Could not get into it

    I had a hard time gettnig into this book. I received an advance US copy and had a hard time staying interested. It was choppy and the dialouge was weird a sentence would start strond and end weak. Again it could be because it was an advance copy but it was trying a little to hard to be intense. I may circle back around to it againa nd see if I can get into it. Not really that impressed on first impression though.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

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    Hard Core Crime Story

    I enjoyed reading this book by Swedish authors Roslund and Hellstrom. The intro took a little while to develop, but the story required this beginning. These best line of the story is the last (which I will not divulge). A lot of method study in being a criminal and an investigator. The characters are realistic. I would recomment this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2011

    A league of its own!

    This excellent crime novel grabbed me right from the start with its condensed language and intense plot. It is constructed with such suspense that I read it in nearly one sitting.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    Swedish Mystery Writers Excel!

    Three Seconds is divided into five parts. The first section introduces us to the main characters. Piet Hoffman (also known by his code name Paula) is an ex-con recruited by the police to infiltrate the drug world. His current task is to be sent back to prison where he is to destroy the current drug dealers and set it up so that the Polish Mafia can take over the lucrative business of selling drugs within the prison system. Once he is done, he will be removed, set up with a new identity, and the Polish Mafia will be broken up by the authorities. To complicate this scenario is an unfortunate murder that takes place in an apartment Piet uses, which sets the second character, Ewert Grens, on Piet's trail and threatens his mission. Grens is a quirky detective, struggling with grief over the loss of his wife, with a reputation for never giving up, and there is a high likelihood that he will uncover Piet's involvement in the murder. A third, lesser character is Erik Wilson, Piet's handler, who is first introduced as he attends an international conference on advanced infiltration in Georgia, USA. The second part starts to build excitement as we follow Piet go through 2 days of preparation before his incarceration. Part three builds to a crescendo as we breathlessly follow the events that unfold for Piet in prison as he seems trapped in an inescapable situation. Parts four and five track Grens's progess in solving the original murder, while uncovering the conspiracy set in motion to destroy Piet. Although the book starts slowly, jumping back and forth between the characters, throwing us into confusion (complicated by Swedish names and locations), by the time Piet enters prison we are fully hooked and continue reading at a breakneck pace to find out Piet's fate. The authors do an excellent job of plotting, setting up the situation and then following through to a more than satisfactory conclusion. I highly recommend this book. It's even more engaging than the Stieg Larsson trilogy, in my opinion.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a great Swedish police procedural

    In Sweden, Piet Hoffman is so good at what he does only one other knows who he really is. An ex-con with a loving wife and two kids, he has spent much of the decade moving up the hierarchy of the Polish Mafia working in Stockholm. The mob chief chooses Piet to lead their plan to take over the supplying of amphetamines to convicts; but first he must enter Wotjek Security to infiltrate a Polish drug-dealing operation in order to eliminate the current sales boss (for the mob) and gather information (for the cops).

    Meanwhile Swedish Police Service Detective Inspector Ewert Grens investigates a drug-related killing in which Hoffman witnessed the execution. All roads lead to Hoffman, who has wiretap information he uses to keep corrupt politicians from eliminating him. Instead the politicos believe in cantankerous obstinate Grens they have the source to destroy Hoffman. However, Grens is frustrated as someone is covering up something; what he does not know in his pursuit of Hoffman is he threatens Piet's cover.

    Three seconds is a great Swedish police procedural that focuses on the Eastern European invasion of Sweden by felons and former agents. The story line is filled with action, but driven by Piet who fears the corrupt cops or politicians will soon sell him out. His anguish over his family augments the tale as he wants to come out of the cold but at the same time leaves readers to wonder why he takes such risks as he goes under for allegedly one final potentially deadly assignment. Mindful of Henning Mankell's Inspector Kurt Wallander thrillers, fans will relish Piet's work for the Police Service.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

    Not feeling it so much - shocked with all the positive reviews

    i have to say, i am just not feeling the book. I am going to push thru, but the way it is written is difficult to decipher who is doing what. The writing is choppy, I am not developing strong feelings for the characters. I am on page 300, and just like, engh... really. I am a fast reader, love crime genre, loved Stieg Larsons books, but I cross the board in books... and I was really hoping for a strong page turner here... but i am left with a weird writing style, strange translation... I dono, I know I am in the minority. But I will finish.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

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    Tough Read

    I am not the type to give up on a book I have started, but I sure am having trouble staying with this one. I read a few pages, then go on to another book. Just can't seem to get into it even though I keep trying. I will keep at it though, perhaps because of all the great reviews it got, but right now, I don't think it even comes close to the Stieg Larsson books!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

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    Highly Recommended

    Three seconds is a very well written exciting book. I recommend it to anyone who loves adventure. This is crime fiction at its most compelling.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2010

    Unputdownable!

    Three Seconds, the most recent B&N First Look Book Club selection, is an edge-of-your seat crime novel with unforgettable characters and a fast paced plot. It also examines good and evil, corruption, and human nature. I will definitely seek out other books by these authors. I highly recommend it - It's great for book clubs!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    A book that keeps you reading...

    Three Seconds is a great read for those who like the old fashioned cops and robbers stories, but with a twist. What if the "robber" works for the cop? What if the "robber" is suspicious of the cops motives?

    Piet is not a robber, per se, but a cunning criminal who knows the system. He is at a crossroads of doing what he's been doing, and being the family man he wants to become. But, he has to do one more assignment.

    And that assignment changes everything. About half way through the book, the lines between "good and evil" are blurred to the point where you don't know who to support in the struggle.

    What I really appreciated about this book was the methodical way the authors chose to write certain aspects of the book. The level of description they used really allowed the reader to imagine what was going on, whether it be a physcial scene, or the emotions (anxiety, confustion, etc) of the character we are "watching."

    I will warn you, however, that in the beginning there is a potential of getting confused on who is who. Don't give up if you get confused! As the book unravels, everything clears up. And the story line is well worth it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

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    Must read for 2011

    If you like books that take to you another place, this is the book for you. If you like to be at the edge of your seat, this book is for you. If you like to have a book grab you and not let you go, this is the book for you! This book will take to you to another country into a world of crime and drama. It is suspenseful and full of rich characters all with compelling stories This is a must read for 2011! Start off the year right and read this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

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    Three Seconds - Is a must read

    This is a great read it will take you on a roller coaster ride until the very end. Three Seconds is a crime novel, that has a lot of conspiracy and it is also a detective storyall in one. If you want a book that you can get right into the character and it has plenty action. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a very compelling and sometime very complex story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 24, 2010

    Waned to like this more than I did

    Interesting book. The plot was engrossing and fun with intricate twists. However, I just couldn't get into the characters, they were a bit shallow and I feel like I only got to know them on the surface. The main character, the criminal infiltrator, came across as just too competent to be true. Still, I may read more by these authors in the future.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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