I started reading Scandinavian authors a few years ago. I was drawn to them for two reasons; first I liked the different world-view/perspective they bring to fiction and second, I'm 50% Norwegian. The last part is silly, I know, but it's the truth. One drawback to reading about Sweden, Norway, Finland or Iceland, is the strangeness of the character and place names; each time, I have to "gear-up" for this aspect. It's well worth the effort, for the most part. When ever I read a foreign author, the translator is very important, this book was translated by Kari Dickson, who was born in Edinburgh, but grew up bilingual, as her mother is Norwegian. Most Swedish authors are very political, and Roslund and Hellstron are no exception.
Three Seconds weighs in at 496 pages, it's formidable. The first 100 pages were a bit slow, I had to get used to the authors' style, and accustomed to the names; after that, I couldn't put it down.
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
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