"Three Second", by Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström

Three Seconds (Grens & Sundkvist #5) - Anders Roslund, Börge Hellström
Book 5, in the Grens & Sundkvist series

This book is by far from being short in fact it is close to 500 pages of intense reading. The plot is multi-faceted and it takes its merry time to spring into action but once started it crakes up tension and our engagement with the novel. Some entering midstream into this series may feel at a lost since the bleakly eccentric protagonist has a very heart wrenching past which is essential to know.

The novel deals with criminals in contemporary Sweden, the Police and Probation Officials who monitor these offenders, and the government who wants to use them as undercover operatives. The story unfolds primarily in the streets and apartments of Stockholm and in Aspsas prison, a fictional jail not too far from the city. We also have side trips to both Denmark and Poland.

The narrative shifts points of view from Ewert Grens, a Stockholm detective who runs covert operatives to mules who smuggle drugs from Poland to Piet Hoffman, the most valuable undercover operative working as a front man for security firm with Mafia ties and to Erik Wilson, his handler.

When a drug buy goes wrong and a Danish police is exposed and killed while on a sting Hoffman needs to extricates himself from the complicity in the murder and negotiate a deal with bureaucrats. But Grens determined effort to solve the case threatens to expose not only Hoffman but also officials from various agencies involved with the operation. Intriguing enough n’est-ce pas?….well, also a bit complicated…

With the many things going on it takes a demanding but well worth effort to absorb the refined narrative which is quite heavy-handed with information and to get used to the complex style. This book is gritty, violent and unnerving and once the action takes place it becomes exciting and eventually turns into a real page-turner.