book reviews

February 17th, 2011 |

Courtesy of Beaverdale Books


Reviewed by Owana McLester-Greenfield


‘Three Seconds’

By Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Silver Oak



489 pp

One member of the Swedish writing duo of Roslund and Hellstrom is a former convict; the other is an investigative journalist. Their experiences and insider knowledge have resulted in a gritty heart-thumper of a thriller, “Three Seconds.”

For nine years, former thief Piet Hoffman has served the Swedish Police Service as an undercover agent. Successful because of his criminality, he finally penetrates the highest ranks of Wojtek Security, a front for the Polish Mafia. Trusting in his handler’s assurances of immediate extraction should the situation turn dangerous, Hoffman agrees to a perilous plan — he will enter a maximum-security prison posing as a Wojtek confederate and will thwart the mafia’s attempt to control amphetamine sales within Swedish prisons. Events do turn deadly. Targeted by Polish inmates and “burned” by self-serving Swedish politicians, Hoffman is everyone’s quarry. A desperate three seconds will mean the difference between survival and oblivion.

“Three Seconds” is excellent on several levels. It fascinates with its disclosures about Swedish drug trafficking and prison life. (The reader learns that amphetamines nestle in the tulips of flower arrangements routinely sent to prison wardens.) The novel shimmers with its authors’ outrage at the corruption prevalent among Swedish politicians, police brass and prison officials. “Three Seconds” leaves the reader gasping at its startling plot twists, including one of the most ingenious survival strategies depicted in contemporary crime fiction. CV