30.1.14

THREE SECONDS, by Roslund & Hellstrom

A Swedish thriller by a prize-winning collaboration between a journalist and a former criminal, this inch-thick novel will, at times, keep your adrenalin pumping fiercely. Piet Hoffman is an ex-convict and now an undercover agent, infiltrating the Polish mafia as they seek to corner the drug market in Sweden. Hoffman agrees to be set up for a crime and be sent to Sweden's toughest prison. As this happens, high-ranking Swedish officials, with whom Hoffman has met, panic. I can't bear to spoil, because the first part of the novel leads into the heart-stopping three seconds that will save or end Hoffman's life. This big book is not a tight, Dragon Tattoo-type novel, I found many parts of it needlessly repetitive. Still, if you are a devotee of high-tension combined with exhaustive personality studies and insider knowledge of prisons, this detailed, sprawling book could be right down your alley. In Sweden, it won crime novel of the year. For me, it's a 3.5.