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Three Seconds    by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom order for
Three Seconds
by Anders Roslund
Order:  USA  Can
SilverOak, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This co-author duo bring a useful array of talents to their writing desks. Anders Roslund is an investigative journalist, while ex-criminal Borge Hellstrom was a founder of KRIS, an organization that helps people recently released from prison to readjust to life outside. Not surprisingly their excellent novel, Three Seconds (translated by Kari Dickson), won the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award.

The authors dole out their story in tantalising snippets of plot threads that follow a myriad of characters. Ex-con Piet Hoffman, a covert human intelligence source (code name Paula) for the Stockholm City Police (his handler is Erik Wilson), is in deep undercover with the Polish Mafia. When a drug buy results in the murder of a Danish undercover operative(witnessed by Piet), stubborn detective Ewert Grens leads that investigation, but his colleague Wilson keeps him in the dark about Piet's involvement.

Ewert Grens, still in deep mourning for his wife, is quite the quirky character, but he's good at his job and he's relentless. After the Poles order Piet to get himself back in prison, in order to lead their expansion into this closed market, he does so with Wilson's help. But Piet is not foolish enough to trust the state secretary's guarantee that he won't be charged with anything relating to the murder and that he'll be helped in prison and given a new life, identity and money when the work is done. He records that conversation and races against time to set things up to provide himself with a parachute if needed.

What follows reminded me of two TV series that I enjoy, Burn Notice and Prison Break. I especially appreciated the use of tulips and poetry to smuggle drugs into jail. The action-packed crescendo of an ending will keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering if Piet has a chance to survive - three seconds are key - and if Ewert will eventually figure out what has been going on behind the scenes. Don't miss this unique thriller, which surely will be made into a movie.

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