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Three Minutes

Review

Three Minutes

I am inordinately fond of Nordic crime fiction. That said, there is a special place in my literary mind and fanboy heart for the works of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström. A great number of the books from Nordic authors are written for their primary (domestic) audience, as one might expect, so that there are cultural, geographical and political references that readers abroad must ferret out on their own. I happen to enjoy this process as part of a continuing learning experience. Roslund and Hellström, however, seem to write their collaborative titles while wearing seven-league boots.

While references to their native Sweden abound and anchor each book, events often hopscotch the globe, with the narrative reflecting not only a canny understanding of the lay of the land but also the gestalt that layers it. I was particularly impressed with this in their novel CELL 8, which, among other things, presented a nuanced view of central and southern Ohio.

"If THREE MINUTES is your first exposure to this writing duo, you are in for a ride you will never forget. If you have been following them from the beginning of their collaborations, you have yet another terrific reading experience to look forward to."

The newly published THREE MINUTES is no exception. It is a sequel to their gripping THREE SECONDS, though it is not necessary to have read that worthy book in order to fully enjoy each and every word of this one (thanks to a wonderful translation by Elizabeth Clark Wessel). Roslund and Hellström employ the simple to conceive yet difficult to execute stylistic methods of keeping the narrative flowing and thus the reader reading: (relatively) short chapters, shifts in perspective, and sharply delineated characterization, with a plot clock or two ticking loudly in the background from page to page.

What about the story itself? I’m glad you asked. THREE MINUTES marks the return of Piet Hoffmann, a criminal mastermind and police informant who is presumed dead by the Stockholm police. Erik Wilson, who was Hoffmann’s police handler, is one of the very few people on earth who know the truth. Hoffmann, his wife and two sons are living in Colombia, where he is working as an enforcer and bodyguard for a high-level cartel member but has in fact infiltrated the cartel for the purpose of providing intelligence to the DEA as part of a blacklisted clandestine operation. Things go from dangerous to deadly when Timothy Crouse, the Speaker of the House, makes an extremely ill-advised visit to Colombia for the purpose of witnessing firsthand the military efforts against the cartels. He is captured and held prisoner, resulting in the United States targeting the cartel members and their families for assassination.

The kill list includes Hoffmann and his family. The DEA has no choice but to cut off contact to Hoffmann. The only chance he has is to rescue Crouse and get him back to the United States. Wilson, in order to aid Hoffmann, sends Stockholm police detective Ewert Grens to Colombia to assist in that endeavor. Grens might seem like an odd choice, given that he is older, somewhat out of shape and cantankerous. He will be a true fish out of water in Colombia. But what is even more unusual is that Grens and Hoffmann have a history, and not all of it is good. This leads to an ending that is even more unpredictable than the journey that takes the reader to it.

Roslund and Hellström are sticklers for detail. One gets the sense that the events in the book or something like them actually took place, if not in our world, then in one right next to it. If THREE MINUTES is your first exposure to this writing duo, you are in for a ride you will never forget. If you have been following them from the beginning of their collaborations, you have yet another terrific reading experience to look forward to.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 28, 2017

Three Minutes
by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus
  • ISBN-10: 1681444135
  • ISBN-13: 9781681444130