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Three Seconds

(Ewert Grens #5)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  6,081 ratings  ·  654 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9781849161527

Piet Hoffmann is the best undercover operative in the Swedish police force, but only one other man is even aware of his existence. After a drug deal he is involved in goes badly wrong, he must face the hardest mission of his life - infiltrating Sweden's most infamous maximum-security prison. Detective Inspector Ewert Grens is ch
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Quercus Books (first published May 20th 2009)
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Amanda Not at all. This is the first one I have read by these authors and it was fantastic
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 ·  6,081 ratings  ·  654 reviews

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Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
The latest book from Roslund & Hellström is about the crooked dealings between the Swedish police and their well-placed informants. Ex-con Piet Hoffman, now a “covert human intelligence source” for the Stockholm police, is deeply implanted into the Polish Mafia. He is attempting to stop the organization from controlling drug distribution in Sweden’s prisons, and all the while, Hoffman is also a family man with a wife and two young sons.

When Hoffman is involved in a fouled-up drug deal that leads
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best crime novels I have read in a long time. For me it exceeded the Larsson series everyone loved. It is so well written. There wasn't a single moment when I felt that even one word was extraneous, except maybe when I was confused with the foreign terms but that had nothing to do with the book itself.

The book is set in an unfamiliar place for most Americans, since it takes place mostly in Sweden. Every character has a unique purpose and is developed specifically in a way to
*finishes book, snaps cover closed*
Queue Extreme Ways by Moby.

If you don't know this reference we can no longer be friends; I have no desire to speak with you further. If you actually know that reference, you need to let me know so I can congratulate you on Your Awesome. This book was like Bourne Identity meets Boondock Saints meets Shooter meets The Departed. But also with an extra shot of kick ass awesome. An informant working undercover is assigned to a prison. And while there...gets burnt.
Rachelle Urist
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though it took me a while (50 pages? 80? 100?) to get into the book, once it took hold it didn't let go. For the last 300+ pages, I couldn't put it down. It's a riveting look at detective work, criminal minds, and the enormous risks, both physical and psychological, that both sides take in doing what they do. I may have vaguely known that investigators use criminal elements to spur - if not enable - their efforts. But this book, written collaboratively by a former journalist and former criminal, ...more
Scandinavian crime fiction has been hot for many years now, but in the wake of the unexpected success of the Steig Larsson books, it appears to be even more ubiquitous. This latest example (the third in a series, following The Beast and Box 21) takes a very straightforward and familiar plot about an undercover operative working for the Swedish police, and manages to milk it for more than 400 pages of not particularly engaging prose. The premise is that former drug addict and ex-con Piet Hoffman ...more
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of S. Larsson or Sjowall and Wahloo, those interested in the politics of policing and prison
I won this hot-off-the-torturous-translation-table Swedish thriller in a goodreads giveaway contest. My review is of an uncorrected advance reading copy, so it is possible that changes may be made to the text before it is released in January 2011. Three Seconds is the first novel I've read by Roslund & Hellstrom.

I don't know what it is about Sweden as a country that makes it inclined to produce crime novels that are so much more interesting, insightful and refreshing than the formulaic Koontz a
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads, tops
PROTAGONIST: DI Ewert Grens; infiltrator Piet Hoffman
SERIES: #5 of 5; 3rd book translated into English
RATING: 4.75

One of the tools that police departments often use is to develop a network of informants, people on the street who have access to the kind of information that they would be hard pressed to uncover. In some cases, the informant goes even further, with the subject actually infiltrating an organization that is of interest to the authorities. Such is the role of Piet Hoffm
Brian Oldham
I love Scandinavian Crime Fiction. This book cover says it is the best book of the year. It is good but not the best Scandinavian crime fiction you can read. I don't know all the books that came out in the last year, but I know that this is not at the level or Henning Mankel, Arnarldur Idridisson, Helen Turston, Sjowall and Wahloo, Karen Fossum, Ake Edwardson, Hakkan Nesser and certainly is no Stig Larsson. This book also does not compare to the quality of England's Peter Lovsey, or the U.S. aut ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rec, e-books
Amazing and exciting reading ! !

“Three Seconds” is written by Anders Roslund (journalist) and Borge Hellstrom (ex-criminal).

I had a good time reading this book despite that it was not easy at first. The authors were in no hurry to bring their story into focus and they took a lot of time to "set up" the context what gave a "false" pace until the half of the book. They gave many details about the characters which allow readers to anticipate their reactions and understand their decisions. Readers
J Edward Tremlett
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call him Paula. That’s what his handlers in the Stockholm police do.
Codename Paula is their inside man within the dangerous Polish mob, which has infested Sweden’s underworld with drugs and other nefarious activities. At their behest, he walks a terrifying path — turning a blind eye to death and murder as he commits some crimes in order to stop others. And at every moment, with each new crime and deception, he knows that one wrong word or off action could cause his long-standing deception to col
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic Swedish crime when one starts to sympathise with the villain, against all odds.
A calculated, intense, and dark story about an underworld that almost certainly exists and leaves me questioning why people do what they do.
Underneath it all, criminals are people too, who make choices, have feelings, and are just as vulnerable and fragile.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect escapist summer reading for fans of Stieg Larssen’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. I listened to the audiobook, and I have a feeling it made the book better. (I mind verbosity and repetitiveness less in conversation than on the printed page.)

The story is fairly easy to figure out and lacks the intricate subtlety and the intriguing lead characters of the Larssen books:

The lead detective is a cliché and not much fun, but the ex-con protagonist infiltrator makes up for this. The au
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 3.5. I liked the viewpoint of the police informer - interesting psychology but I really don't like DCI Ewert Grens. The most annoying aspect was the constant repetition of information - more editing please! ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 interesting storyline on how the Swedish use informers and the corruption inherent in it.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Closer to 2.5 STARS ... but I’m rounding down to 2.0 STARS. It was OK but if I knew when I started this book what I know now I probably would have passed on this one. Don’t get me wrong. The writing is very strong, almost addictive in its cadence and flow and smooth transition between characters but the subject matter simply isn't my gig.

So why did I read it? Some background color ... I bought this book, along with a half dozen others, for $0.50 at my library’s annual spri
Three Seconds by the Swedish writing team of Anders & Hellstrom is pretty good. Once I had the chance to really get into the book, I enjoyed it more. However, I didn't feel that it was anything so special that I'd want to read anything else by them.

Piet Hoffman is a former criminal turned police informant. He has managed to delve deeply into a Polish mafia drug ring. His next move is to get himself arrested so that the mafia can expand into the prison--which is when Hoffman and the Swedish poli
Deborah Schultz
I enjoyed the narrator. The book was good, but I think it will work better as a movie. I liked all the planning done by the main character and his meticulous attention to details. I found the stance against informants getting away with crimes. I admit it was taken a little far, and was underhanded, but it seems commonplace to overlook minor crimes to catch major criminals. I did keep picturing Joel Kinnaman as Piet...

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 imag
Toni Osborne
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Pol
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in the series that I've read by these Swedish authors. I thought this book was even better than the first. These two authors, one of them a former criminal, write so well and thoroughly draw out their characters in addition to developing a walloping good story.

The gist of the novel is that the Swedish police, through an undercover former petty thief, have infiltrated the Polish mafia. The send this infiltrator into the prison system to learn more about how drugs are smugg
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic Sweedish read By Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom and written in the style of the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series by Stieg Larsson. This story takes place in Stockholm and surrounds the plight of "Paula" (the main character is male) who is caught up in the Polish mafia's attempt to flood the Sweedish drug trade as well as being hung out by the justice system. Until the conclusion, it is difficult to predict who will survive and who will fall to their respective life c ...more
Ronald Roseborough
Riding high on the wave of Scandinavian novels breaking on our shores, comes this first rate thriller from the award winning team of Roslund and Hellstrom. Names we will definitely be hearing a lot more of in this country. Superb plotting and in depth characterizations highlight this novel. It details the relations between the Swedish police and the informants they use to help stem the rising tide of the Polish Mafia in Sweden. The book is shared by two main characters. Ewert Grens, an old schoo ...more
susan howard
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exciting story, started a little slow building the story but really took off and what a great ending. At times the book was hard to read because of the street names and foreign names throughout the book but overall it did not take away from the story. I enjoyed the fierce intensity that Ewert Grens had in this book, he doggedly pursued his investigation and at times I thought he was going to ruin the outcome of the story but in the end it all came together!
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Received via Goodreads First Reads. Thank you Goodreads and Publishers!

A relatively quick read. This wasn't a can't put it down book, for me - but I can see that it would be for some readers. I feel like this book would be highly enjoyed by anyone who loved the Dragon/Millenium series. For those that found Girl with a Dragon Tattoo slow (like myself) well, I think you may end up feeling the same way about this novel. Like Tattoo, I found there was a lot of repetition (the conversations Ewert ha
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Piet Hoffman, Swedish undercover police informer, has climbed very high in the ranks of the Polish Mafia when he haplessly witnesses a murder during a drug deal gone terribly wrong. While Inspector Ewert Grens investigates the murder, Hoffman's Mafia masters want him in prison to take over drug operations there. A secret arm of the law agrees, and offers him and his family protection and new identities for breaking the drug operations of the Mafia in the Swedish prison system. But they reckoned ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Deciding to become a police informant puts Piet Hoffman in the position of having to hide his criminal past and lie to his wife and sons. But his increasingly successful infiltration of a Polish drug ring operating in Sweden puts him puts him in a position where he is unable to prevent a murder.

When the opportunity comes for Piet to be temporarily arrested and placed in a Swedish prison, the danger he faces rises. He strikes a deal with a certain team of the Swedish police and government agency
Bookmarks Magazine
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mar-apr-2011
In this superb translation, Sweden's latest contribution to crime writing tackles some weighty subjects -- specifically, the nature of identity, the Swedish police force's use of civilians in its operations, and the safekeeping of its prisoners -- as it twists, turns, and hurdles towards its conclusion. Despite the intensity of its finale, however, Three Seconds is a novel to be savored, its multifaceted story line leisurely unfurling over the first 200 pages. The critics diverged over the novel ...more
This was an extraordinary 'experience', a heart-in-your-throat thriller of the first order. The title hints at the sense of 'real time' pacing of the story and the characters are ones that you grow to like/admire despite their human frailties. Sometimes the level of detail seemed too heavy, but as a mechanism to lock you into the story it was perfect. This is a wonderful mystery despite the fact that it isn't a 'whodunit' but rather a 'howdunit'. It's a contemporary look at the ambiguities in Sw ...more
Ex-con Piet Hoffman has been working undercover for the Stockholm police for nine years, rising within the Polish mafia to lead its effort to control the supply of drugs to Swedish prisons. Getting himself arrested after assurances from senior police and governmental officials, Piet is burned and sets up his own death after taking hostages to expose his double dealing masters. Relentless Inspector Grens orders the sniper to fire and then has to unravel the strange behavior of Hoffman. Probably 3 ...more
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Anders Roslund is a Swedish author and journalist. He is the founder and former head of Kulturnyheterna (Culture News) on SVT, Sweden's national television broadcaster. For many years he worked as a news reporter – specializing in criminal and social issues – and as an Editor-in-chief at Rapport and Aktuellt, the two major News programmes on SVT.

Roslund regularly collaborates with Börge Hellström,

Other books in the series

Ewert Grens (10 books)
  • The Beast (Grens & Sundkvist #1)
  • The Vault (Grens & Sundkvist #2)
  • Cell 8 (Grens & Sundkvist, #3)
  • Flickan under gatan (Grens & Sundkvist #4)
  • Two Soldiers (Grens & Sundkvist #6)
  • Three Minutes (Grens & Sundkvist, #7)
  • Tre timmar
  • Knock Knock (Ewert Grens, #9)
  • Sovsågott (Hoffman och Grens, #5)

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