“Three Seconds,”by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom; Silver Oak; $24.95.

Ex-con Piet Hoffman is an informant for the Swedish police, and he’s on the verge of taking down one of the most notorious crime rings in the world. The Polish mafia bosses are planning to take over the drug trade inside Sweden’s largest prisons, and they have entrusted Hoffman with the job.

Hoffman is a family man with a wife he loves and two young sons. His plan is to do what the police need him to do and then be out forever, the famous “last job.” He plans every detail, down to putting drugs in cold tulips so they bloom when he needs to retrieve the drugs.

His handler, Erik Wilson, has to falsify Hoffman’s record so he looks like someone who is a dangerous drug kingpin. That’s where the trouble begins.

Authors Anders Roslund, an investigative journalist, and Borge Hellstrom, an ex-con who works to rehabilitate criminals, won the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award for “Three Seconds.” They use the story to point out flaws in the Swedish police’s use of ex-cons as informants, a system that faces much scrutiny.

There is corruption at every turn in “Three Seconds,” from the police officers who are supposed to be taking care of the informants to the politicians who pull the strings. Roslund and Hellstrom are dissecting the process, and they do so very well in this highly entertaining novel that is full of twists and turns.

Some of the local Swedish jargon can be hard to follow, and knowledge of Swedish prisons and politics is needed to navigate the story clearly. However, the action quickly draws you in and continues to grip you to the final chapters of the novel. The authors have something to say, and “Three Seconds” proves to be an excellent way of doing it.


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