Friday, January 21, 2011

THREE SECONDS by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Many writers are currently being touted as the next Stieg Larsson. These writers are no exception. Many librarians are struggling with what to recommend to readers who want more in the style of Larsson's Millenium trilogy. I'm not sure that this book qualifies.

Piet Hoffman is a devoted husband and father but he hides a secret. He is also an ex-con who has been working undercover as a mole for the Stockholm police for the last nine years.  Hoffman has risen through the ranks of the Polish mafia and is selected to head up the mafia's new attempt to take over the methamphetamine trade in the Swedish prisons. In order to accomplish his objective, Hoffman must get himself arrested and placed in a maxium security prison where he will set up the new drug trafficking trade. However, he will have no contact with his police handler and will be completely on his own. If he is found out as a mole, his life will be in jeopardy.

The first half of this book lays the groundwork for the story. It explains how Hoffman came to be a mole, how the undercover agent operation works and what Hoffman's work inside the prison will entail. There is A LOT of setup.  I was confused for a good portion of the book because the writers waited to explain that the police use female code names for their informants. It wasn't clear to me that "Paula" was the same person as Piet.  The book didn't really pick up for me until about halfway through when Hoffman begins his prison operation. The last half was very good.  Once I found out what the title of the book was referencing, I really got hooked.

Many readers may get bored and/or frustrated by the first half of the book. It moves pretty slowly and the number of characters can be confusing. However, the second half really redeems the book.  Since one of the writers is an ex-con himself, he really gives us an accurate view into how the whole police/prison system works.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. If you can get past the first half of the book, you will be rewarded by fast-paced and gripping story with a clever twist at the end.

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