3 Minutes by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström
Quercus (July 2017)
432 pages; $18.35 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
Now for something quite different: a Nordic thriller set in South America. While several Scandinavian authors continue to invade the bookshelves of American readers, almost all of them are set in those countries, which isn’t a bad thing. Unknown settings make for exciting reads. Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström have exploded onto the scene, most recently with 3 Seconds, and here, with the sequel, 3 Minutes.
What makes it different? It’s almost entirely set in South America and beautifully fleshed out with Piet Hoffman, a protagonist/anti-hero who feels like a mix between a Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Repairman Jack. Hoffmann is an ex-con who has been recruited by the DEA as an informant, but one who has a brutal job: a protector of a cartel master. His hands get pretty dirty with violent acts, as most would expect, and the authors hold nothing back in the details.
Hoffmann finds himself in a wild plot where the Speaker of the House is kidnapped and held prisoner. The United States takes the low road, thankfully, in composing a kill list which targets much of the cartel—and their families. Hoffmann is definitely on the list, as is his family, who were protected in the relocation due to his job. Since the DEA’s operations are black, the government doesn’t acknowledge Hoffman as someone who needs to be saved.
What ensues is a story which doesn’t let up, from the shocking first chapter until the last page. To say more about the plot would be to name spoilers, and with the amount of twists and turns in the authors’ story, the reader will likely have little idea where events will occur next. Roslund and Hellström accomplish what many thrillers do not—create an intriguing main character who, despite his actions, is entirely human, and his flaws bleed onto the page.
Lastly, the lynchpin to any foreign novel is the translation. Elizabeth Clark Wessel’s work here is so pure that it reads as an English written novel, something which often doesn’t occur in these books.
Next up for this reviewer is to read the previous books in the series (which are not needed to enjoy this book). Highly recommended for any thriller lover.