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Rachel-K
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Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

Thought we could use a  slightly lighter thread for such an intense novel! I am struck by the level of detail we get about the nitty-gritty of the drug trade, from the bodily hiding of drugs and microphones to the use of tulips and (gasp) cutting up dusty book of poetry from the library!

 

Did you find any of the novel's details to be particularly disturbing or surprising? I don't want to think of Three Seconds as a useful instruction manual to a life of crime, but I was tremendously impressed by the ingeniously practical aspects of drug trade that I never would have thought of!

 

Another lighter question about the details of the novel: How do you find the details of ordinary life differ across an ocean? Are there things about daily life described in Stockholm that surprise you by their similarly or difference? What people eat for breakfast or the boy's nursery school?

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thewanderingjew
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Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

 



The description of how Piet hid the microphone was particularly graphic and I had no idea anyone could ever even do that, until it was described in the book.
Also, I never heard of Calpol and was shocked when Piet gave it to the boys to dope them up so he could carry on with his plans. I did look it up and it is akin to the medications we give our kids when they are sick and have a fever. The most disturbing thing about it was that he seemed to give them doses based on his need rather than theirs! Their illness and discomfort was secondary to his pursuits.
Rachel-K wrote:

Thought we could use a  slightly lighter thread for such an intense novel! I am struck by the level of detail we get about the nitty-gritty of the drug trade, from the bodily hiding of drugs and microphones to the use of tulips and (gasp) cutting up dusty book of poetry from the library!

 

Did you find any of the novel's details to be particularly disturbing or surprising? I don't want to think of Three Seconds as a useful instruction manual to a life of crime, but I was tremendously impressed by the ingeniously practical aspects of drug trade that I never would have thought of!

 

Another lighter question about the details of the novel: How do you find the details of ordinary life differ across an ocean? Are there things about daily life described in Stockholm that surprise you by their similarly or difference? What people eat for breakfast or the boy's nursery school?


 

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JoanieGranola
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

Did you find any of the novel's details to be particularly disturbing or surprising? I don't want to think of Three Seconds as a useful instruction manual to a life of crime, but I was tremendously impressed by the ingeniously practical aspects of drug trade that I never would have thought of! I'm surprised by the way the drugs are cut - using grape sugar. I'm also quite surprised at the adept way Piet/Paula disassembles and reassembles the infrequently used hardcovers to hollow them out. It's interesting that Piet/Paula conceals the microrecorder for the governmental meeting but hints that such a concealment would've been revealed during his mafia meetings. Criminals truly do think differently than "normal" people.

 

Another lighter question about the details of the novel: How do you find the details of ordinary life differ across an ocean? Are there things about daily life described in Stockholm that surprise you by their similarly or difference? What people eat for breakfast or the boy's nursery school? As this is the fifth Swedish novel that I've read, it appears (to me, at least) that life is completely different than in the U.S. I find very few similarities with life abroad.

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literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

 

The placement of the microphones on the railings of the church tower left me wondering how this all comes into play.  If Block B is "a closed system with no escape", is this going to be a Mission Impossible episode that I missed?  Paula thinks "The next time someone stood out here and spoke, he or she would do so without knowing that every word, every sentence could be heard by someone who had been sentenced to serve time down there, inside the wall of Aspsas prison."   Okay, other than easedropping, who goes there to talk and talk privately and about what?  Setting up mules for delivery?  Springing a new infiltrator?

 

When Paula first enters the church grounds, he studies the wind, or lack of wind.  He goes up to the balcony in the church and again observes the wind and the trees by the churchyard wall--"the wind had increased and the bigger branches were moving now."  Wind strength twelve meters per second.  Adjust eight degrees to the right...Distance fifteen hundred and three meters.  Clear view.  Three seconds from firing to impact.  His hand gripped the nonexistent gun hard." I was thrilled when I read the words "Three Seconds", a hint of how the novel got its name.

 

Thoughts raced through my mind i.e. who was going to shoot whom?  Does he get a message to Wilson and Wilson takes him out when all else fails?  No, I don't think so.  Does Paula get out and then comes back to shoot someone in that "window that was positioned near the roof, with reinforced glass and closely spaced metal bars", someone who would in Paula's mind so deservingly have earned to be killed, or could it be someone from the Police System who done him wrong?  All speculation, but Paula went through the motions for a reason.

 

I liked how methodically he researched which books to hide the drugs in and how he went about doing it.  "Tulips and poetry."  He is clever!  With all the pressure he was under to set everything up, always counting down how many hours and minutes left, I was amazed that he remained as calm as he did when hiding the drugs in the books.  The clock was ticking and everything had to be perfectly placed.

 

Even down to burying the gun.  Who would think to hide a gun in a cementary plot.  The one track he didn't cover, though, was that the soil around the newly buried gun would look different than the rest of the soil; it would look freshly covered over.

 

Wilson, being a loner in life, was a little envious of Piet's family--a wife to love and two lovely children, and became easily distracted when he saw his two children "in a world that dealt in life and death".  This was out of character for Wilson. 

 

What I didn't like about Wilson in this section was how he seem to find women in their 50's, women who maybe needed a little extra attention, to do his work.  How he so nonchalantly brushes against them when moving forward or puts his arm around the back of the chair, knowing that they are enjoying it.  Does he hand pick the women to alter the computer records the way he hand picks his infiltrators?  He finds the weak and builds them up.

 

The very end of the section when Paula is arrested, when he fell to the ground and was then kicked by the policemen, this is usually where I end my relationship with a book and/or movie.  I hate violence and brutality.  But I will not give up now.  I have everyone here to talk to about it.


 

Wordsmith
BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details


literature wrote:

 

What I didn't like about Wilson in this section was how he seem to find women in their 50's, women who maybe needed a little extra attention, to do his work.  How he so nonchalantly brushes against them when moving forward or puts his arm around the back of the chair, knowing that they are enjoying it.  Does he hand pick the women to alter the computer records the way he hand picks his infiltrators?  He finds the weak and builds them up.

 


 In many of our posts, we seem to be bumping up against a kind of subtext to this novel:  the nature of relationships, of people or organizations "using" others, and the rightness or wrongness of these actions.  I don't recall where in the threads I read it, but one reader compared this fictional police organization to normal everyday corporate life, where no one is indispensable and, if you go, you are soon - and easily - replaced.  I think there's a lot of truth in that, but I'm not sure it's "wrong",  it's more that both sides must understand the nature of the relationship.   In the corporate example, the employee actually has some advantages that the business does not.  For instance, the employee can terminate the relationship whenever he feels like it, for whatever reason, or for no reason at all.   The employer, on the other hand, must usually build a case and keep records if he is to terminate an employee, unless there's an actual reduction in the workforce.  A firing has to be "just."  An employee leaving his boss in the lurch doesn't have to justify it at all.  Maybe that's one reason why bosses keep track of whom they have that could step in for someone who leaves. 

 

Erik almost certainly handpicks those female employees he gets to help him.  For someone who's usually taken for granted on a job, as an older clerk might be, it's probably enough that someone treats them with interest and kindness when he wants something from them.  A sort of variation on the "catching more flies with honey" idea.  So it's a low level win-win for both of them.  They help him out and he makes their day a little brighter.  Certainly they don't kid themselves that he's interested romantically.  He's just treating them well.  (Of course, he has to observe them carefully enough to know whether, in fact, they actually LIKE being casually touched, some people actually flinch. ;-)   Any salesman will tell you that if you want to get in to see someone, you'd better treat his (or her) secretary well.  Know her name, bring a small gift now and then, remember how many kids she has.  You want to get to be, if not a friend, then someone she's happy to see come through the door, and willing to help out.

 

Erik could, of course, use an alternative tactic to secure their help.  He could bully them, or threaten their jobs;  that's the way most men used to treat female employees, especially the older ones.  I don't much like that idea, either.  Relationships are two-way streets, unless someone has a gun to your head.  You both get to decide whether you want to stay in it, and how much you'll both give, and put up with, to make it work and get the amount of payoff you're looking for. 

 

Everyone on all sides and all levels of this story is both user and used.  We start with the poor dumb mules who risk their lives so they can get their fix.  And as we progress through layers of mafia bosses and police hierarchy, they all have to decide:  is what I'm putting up with, worth it? 

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Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

How creative everyone  involved especially Piet is...The details of the Tulips and making sure that the meth is not detected..I thought the library books were far beyond anything I could've imagined...His placement of the explosives..I imagine would be used too ,in case he was to escape,then all eyes would be on the Church....Piet has his own plan..His insurance so to speck..As he says in "Three Seconds" Trust no one"...Everyday life seems quite normal,,,Breakfast has a slight European twist,but otherwise not a big difference. How we function here.especially if you have children,seems very ordinary..Nursery School.etc...Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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MomOf2Turds
Posts: 46
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

 

Did you find any of the novel's details to be particularly disturbing or surprising? 

I found the description of Piet hiding the microphone rather graphic and disturbing, yet intriguing at the same time.  I am learning so much about the drug trade and such than I could ever have imagined.  And the way that he knew just how to hide everything in the tulips, how to make them open just enough for his needs, and how to make them close again, and how to ensure that they didn't bloom until he wanted them to.  And he was so thorough in hiding the drugs and explosives in the books.  I would have never thought that it was possible to be able to hide that much in a book and let it get past inspections and such.  And they were so descriptive with the way that the mules felt, and some of what they had to go through.  It is so harsh, and I know now whereas I didn't before.  It's crazy.


Another lighter question about the details of the novel: How do you find the details of ordinary life differ across an ocean? Are there things about daily life described in Stockholm that surprise you by their similarly or difference? What people eat for breakfast or the boy's nursery school?

I seem to feel that the motions are pretty similar.  The family life, with two working parents, having to make sure that they can schedule time for both of them to work and still have a parent at home with the sick children because they can't attend their nursery school.  They enjoy eating together (according to Piet) and I feel that that is something that is slipping away from Americans in general.  We have become so busy and self absorbed that we don't make the time to sit and talk with our family over meals.  Not like we used to.  They seem to have the same types of rush hours that we have here, and they seem to be just as nerve wracking.  I feel there are so many similarities, and yet they are so different, these lives that take place across oceans and nations.  

 

“A home without books is a body without soul.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
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mv5ocean
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

Great thread Rachel! :smileyhappy:

I too have been amazed by both the level of detail and the things I've learned that I never even knew existed.

I am sure that desperation plays a huge factor in obtaining that knowledge!

I was enthralled about using the library books because I love crafting and I read something once about using an old library book to make a clock out of.

What a shocking contrast this is to hiding items involved in the criminal element!!!!

 

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nfam
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

I find all the detail about the drug trade extremely fascinating. The authors definitely know what they're writing about. Many of the things Piet does are very creative. I love the fact that he used old library books and tulips to smuggle the drugs into the prison. While it's not a use of old library books that I can condone, I thought it was very clever. 

 

The activities of daily life seem to me to be just what I'd expect in any country that has a large city. For me, it doesn't seem to make a difference that this story takes place in Stockholm. Maybe if I knew more about law enforcement in other countries, I'd find more differences and similarities. 

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,839
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

Rachel again very good questions

 

It amazed me at the time and patience the authors spent on describing the "improper use of Library materials" in this section. They must have some very good "infiltrators" themselves to know of such things.

 

I didn't find the novel disturbing, we knew from the very first sentence what was in store for us by using the mule to start off the novel, so I knew we weren't going to have Nancy Drew mystery here but a noir read.

 

I found the ordinary everyday life of the characters very like mine here in the states with the exception of the choices of breakfast items or maybe I should say the combination of them.

 

I LOVE this selection and yet another reason to mourn Paul's leaving

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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

I was totally struck by the level of knowledge Piet had on the unrequested books. This wasn't his first time destroying books, and I don't believe it will be his last. While it seems that we are given explicit instructions on how to do it, I'm not sure someone could accomplish this without lots of practice. My question is how did he get the information on the books? Did he have access through the police or did he have secret access? The thought of what was put in them also brought fear and trepidation to my thoughts as I wondered how unstable some of his treasures might be. Putting a book into a drop box will jar it, and these seemed to be large books. What about the danger to the librarian or anyone else around? I guess when you think that he didn't think about the danger to his family in his home, he probably didn't worry about anyone else. As you can see, this part really got to me and worries me about his character.

 

As far as hiding the microphone and recorder, that part was fascinating and a little comical. Every time the microphone slipped, I found myself giggling at his trying to find a private way to fix it. I found Piet's cutting of the drugs and using the tulips to deliver them interesting. Again it shows that he is a criminal and will do whatever it takes to make something happen. Again, the end justifies the means.

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

 

I agree with your questions. Where did he get this kinowledge about how to conceal drugs in books, how to restore the book to looking normal? How did he know to use books that were not requested often? How could he take that chance? He took the books out in his name. What if the contraband was discovered? Are the criminals so desperate that they throw caution to the wind and do these things? Do they have nothing further to lose, perhaps, so it is worth the chance they take? Who taught Piet how to take apart the Swiss mini gun and put it back together. He has so much unusual knowledge about how to work the system, or rather, work around the system.


DSaff wrote:

I was totally struck by the level of knowledge Piet had on the unrequested books. This wasn't his first time destroying books, and I don't believe it will be his last. While it seems that we are given explicit instructions on how to do it, I'm not sure someone could accomplish this without lots of practice. My question is how did he get the information on the books? Did he have access through the police or did he have secret access? The thought of what was put in them also brought fear and trepidation to my thoughts as I wondered how unstable some of his treasures might be. Putting a book into a drop box will jar it, and these seemed to be large books. What about the danger to the librarian or anyone else around? I guess when you think that he didn't think about the danger to his family in his home, he probably didn't worry about anyone else. As you can see, this part really got to me and worries me about his character.

 

As far as hiding the microphone and recorder, that part was fascinating and a little comical. Every time the microphone slipped, I found myself giggling at his trying to find a private way to fix it. I found Piet's cutting of the drugs and using the tulips to deliver them interesting. Again it shows that he is a criminal and will do whatever it takes to make something happen. Again, the end justifies the means.


 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

The mystery is solved. You can find everything on the internet. How do you make a hollow book? Just check this out to find out how to do it.There are even more explicit websites. Some are scary.

 

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DSaff
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

When I first saw your post it made me laugh, you know the "it figures it is on the Internet" laugh. Then I too felt sad. There is way too much information out there. No one has to be creative anymore. :smileywink:

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

The mystery is solved. You can find everything on the internet. How do you make a hollow book? Just check this out to find out how to do it.There are even more explicit websites. Some are scary.

 


 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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PiperMurphy
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

I am amazed at the detail in this book. It's actually an education. I had no idea that tulips could be used for smuggling, and then I wonder how someone went about making that discovery. The incident with the microphone was fascinating in a weird sort of way. I cringed a little bit at the library books. I love books too much to cut them up like that. It was Piet's preparations in Part II that was most amazing to me. I don't think I expected him to be so proactive about ensuring his own escape from prison. I can't wait to see how his precautions play out.

"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
~Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus~
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maxcat
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

I think what is disturbing is the "mules" and how they make them throw up the rubber balls that encase the drugs. Also disturbing to me was the recording Piet made at the meeting and where it was put. Good grief! I guess Sweden as with other European countries are a bit loose and eat differently from Americans. And, what they eat is probably healthier.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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tweezle
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎11-03-2009

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

For me, the most disturbing part of the book so far is how Piet treats his children. He has no problem with overdosing them, carrying dangerous explosives with the children in the car, and working with drugs right under the children's noses. When his child comes in and asks what he's doing, my heart flopped just thinking that the child has been exposed to yet more danger. For a man that claims these are the most precious to him, he sure isn't showing it. Sometimes I think he keeps saying things like this to convince himself that this is HOW he NEEDS to think. 

 

I'm really enjoying how discriptive everything is. WOW!!! What a fantastic insight to the criminal way of thinking. I'm really enjoying this book!!

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” - Mason Cooley
**3 NOOKS with 3 separate accounts in one household.**
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Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details


tweezle wrote:

For me, the most disturbing part of the book so far is how Piet treats his children. He has no problem with overdosing them, carrying dangerous explosives with the children in the car, and working with drugs right under the children's noses. When his child comes in and asks what he's doing, my heart flopped just thinking that the child has been exposed to yet more danger. For a man that claims these are the most precious to him, he sure isn't showing it. Sometimes I think he keeps saying things like this to convince himself that this is HOW he NEEDS to think. 

 

I'm really enjoying how discriptive everything is. WOW!!! What a fantastic insight to the criminal way of thinking. I'm really enjoying this book!!


I was able to "understand" all that Piet was doing, Except when It came to his Children The first time,was disturbing,but never thought he would would put them in harms way again.For me his Selfishness is obvious..and try's so desperately to convince himself its OK,nothing will happen.I agree with all you have posted..Now I am getting paranoid about "The Church"..Susan.

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009
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Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

 


Vermontcozy wrote:

tweezle wrote:

For me, the most disturbing part of the book so far is how Piet treats his children. He has no problem with overdosing them, carrying dangerous explosives with the children in the car, and working with drugs right under the children's noses. When his child comes in and asks what he's doing, my heart flopped just thinking that the child has been exposed to yet more danger. For a man that claims these are the most precious to him, he sure isn't showing it. Sometimes I think he keeps saying things like this to convince himself that this is HOW he NEEDS to think. 

 

I'm really enjoying how discriptive everything is. WOW!!! What a fantastic insight to the criminal way of thinking. I'm really enjoying this book!!


I was able to "understand" all that Piet was doing, Except when It came to his Children The first time,was disturbing,but never thought he would would put them in harms way again.For me his Selfishness is obvious..and try's so desperately to convince himself its OK,nothing will happen.I agree with all you have posted..Now I am getting paranoid about "The Church"..Susan.


I agree that Piet put his children in danger. Piet's actions did not match that his children were so important to him.  I did figure that Piet would be well prepared before going to prison. Piet has to be smart to have survived this long as a police informant. I am curious what if any role Zofia will play as the book progresses.

 

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MSaff
Posts: 272
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Improper use of Library Materials and other Details

Good Afternoon All,

 

  First of all, thank you Rachel.  A lighter thread is necessary to keep us on our toes.  You certainly have a way of keeping us unsure of what to expect next from you. 

 

  Now for the nitty-gretty points of the novel to this point.  I too was struck by some, but not all of the details of the drug trade.  Having spent time over seas, while in the military, I saw some rather peculiar actions by what appeared to be the seeder people I saw on the streets.  Now don't think that I was looking for such people, but in some cultures, drug trade as well as other unseemingly unsavory actions, were prevalent.  Unlike here in the United States, where the drug trade is still usually conducted behind closed doors, in other countries, you can find these actions being taken care of in broad daylight and with no secrecy at all. 

  As for hiding items in body cavities, it happens all the time.  That is why in many cases, especially in prisons, there are body cavity searches on a regular basis.  What did surprise me, however, were the items that were being hidden in those cavities.  I personally would not want anything stuck in me in any cavity, nor would I be swallowing anything, just so I could vomit it up later.

 

  Now let's talk about the destruction of a good book.  How anyone could do that is beyond me.  Literature, is for reading and enjoying, not for again hiding contraband. 

  Life either here or anywhere else is quite similar, at least in my opinion.  Men and women get married and have children.  A family is created and those adults either go to work everyday, to make a living and to support their families, or those fortunate enough, can stay at home and care for their children.  Sure the cultures may be different as well as some of the food, but all in all, everyone needs to take care of their family.  Hopefully in legal ways.

 

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Thought we could use a  slightly lighter thread for such an intense novel! I am struck by the level of detail we get about the nitty-gritty of the drug trade, from the bodily hiding of drugs and microphones to the use of tulips and (gasp) cutting up dusty book of poetry from the library!

 

Did you find any of the novel's details to be particularly disturbing or surprising? I don't want to think of Three Seconds as a useful instruction manual to a life of crime, but I was tremendously impressed by the ingeniously practical aspects of drug trade that I never would have thought of!

 

Another lighter question about the details of the novel: How do you find the details of ordinary life differ across an ocean? Are there things about daily life described in Stockholm that surprise you by their similarly or difference? What people eat for breakfast or the boy's nursery school?


 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/