Title: Three Seconds
Author: Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Three Seconds follows the story of two different men, Piet Hoffman and Ewert Grens. Piet has been working undercover for the Swedish government since his conviction, but now they have asked him to do something that is more dangerous than anything previously. He wants to bring down the Polish mafia, but he also has his wife and two young sons to think about. Ewert Grens is an inspector in the Stockholm police department who is haunted by his failures. When he is assigned a murder case that brings more questions than answers, the case brings him straight to Piet Hoffman.
Ever since Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, Swedish crime fiction seems to be everywhere in the United States. For good reason – they are often well thought out, complex, and intriguing novels that leave the reader wanting more. Three Seconds was no exception; I really enjoyed this densely plotted novel.
Three Seconds was much more of a thriller/crime fiction story than a mystery for me, unlike the Stieg Larsson novels. The authors give us two very different men, and we are helpless as we are forced to watch the situation unravel before us. Roslund & Hellstrom keep the reader’s attention, though the novel does have a slow start. It takes some time to get all the elements in place before the action really starts, but if you stick with the first third of the book, you’ll really be rewarded with a gripping read that has really great twists and turns.
There are a lot of characters in Three Seconds, and while it works for how intricate the novel is, it can get confusing, especially at the beginning when readers are unfamiliar with the characters. Luckily, the authors provide a handy character guide at the beginning of the book; I found myself flipping to it more than once, just to keep everything straight in my head.
I also appreciated the moral complexity of this novel. It really gets the reader thinking – do the ends justify the means? As the reader navigates through the tangled web of lies and conspiracies, they can’t help but ask themselves these complicated and difficult questions.
Three Seconds is a thrilling and ambitious novel that I definitely recommend for fans of crime fiction and thrillers. It goes quickly, but the plot is complex, so I recommend having a clear head and full attention focused on the book when you read it. I hope to read more Swedish crime fiction authors soon, as Roslund & Hellstrom have whetted my appetite!