Sunday, May 8, 2011

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström

Three Seconds (Grens & Sundkvist #5)

An undercover agent is sent to jail to burn a crime ring from the inside, only to find that he is suspected by both the regular police and the crime ring he has gone to infiltrate. Devilishly clever, this novel showcases a truly unique plan by an inmate to elude his pursuers. This was my first time to realize a connection between tulips and drug-smuggling, which had the result of completely unfettering my imagination.

Stockholm has a group of mystery writers that clearly exploit some real or imagined public mistrust of public security. The cover copy on this title claims Anders Roslund,and Börge Hellström are heirs-apparent to Steig Larsson: because all three take on public corruption, one might place the thrillers in the same category. Certainly Roslund and Hellstrom have created a unique and unusual character in Piet Hoffman, just as Larsson did with Lisbeth Salander. But while one admires what Piet Hoffman does to prepare for his stint in the clink, one stands at a remove while evaluating his situation. In contrast, Lizbeth Salander inspires loyalty, perhaps even fealty, in those who meet her. Clearly wronged by a justice system gone amok, both protagonists fight their way to freedom, though not without damage.

This novel took place in a matter of weeks, though there were times when time slowed so completely that every second was recorded. This collapse of time was effective in highlighting the keen attention to detail that was required for the escape plan to succeed in the final, nail-biting seconds. Roslund and Hellstrom have a successful thriller here, though I listened to the audiobook and was not enamored of the reading by Christopher Lane. I found myself wondering more than once if I would like the main investigator, Detective Inspector Ewert Grens, more if I had read the book myself. As it was, none of the characters was particularly sympathetic, and as a result, one scarcely cares whether or not they succeed. I believe the voice inflection could have been responsible for this spin on the material.

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