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Rachel-K
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Three Seconds: Part One

Please use any of the following questions to start off our discussion of the first section of Three Seconds. Please also feel free to post any of your own questions or observations for the group. Enjoy!

 

How does the novel so far  challenge our expectations of good guys and bad guys?  Are you suspending judgment of some characters?
 
How would you describe each of our major characters so far?
 
What do we get of Grens' background? How would you describe his police work? What does it mean that he has boxed up his cassettes?
 
Do we know anything of Erik Wilson's background? What do you make of his character? What was he doing in the United States?
 
Do you have a favorite supporting character?
 
Why do we open the novel in the perspective of one of the Polish "mules" taking drugs into Stockholm?
 
 
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I have not judged anyone so far..Its a very complicated world GoodGuys/BadGuys..A very fine line in Law Enforcement..Given the first 132 pages I was able to visualize the characters and their surroundings.Gren's ,even though he is still grieving,functions quite well. His life is his Police Work..I especially liked the line on pg 37"Ewert Grens was still sitting by the head that had too many holes"..I knew then he wouldn't give up .he will be a thorn in everyone's side...i don't have a favorite supporting character yet,I think because for me they are all Major Players at this point..Even Einarsson, anyone can get caught up in this ,especially when there is money to be made... At this point in"Three Seconds" I only trust Grens and Nils Krantz...Erik WIlson being in the US  at a Training Center was not odd at all..It seems quite logical that most Officers/Agents must attend these "seminars"..I thought of Quantico..but not sure where he was...I will read that section again.. The mules were a very disturbing part so far..But it does exist..so its a reality.I must commend Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom for writing such  relevant  novel..and  exposing us to that so secretive world...Its so tightly written as well..Susan Vtc..

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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bud12
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎01-26-2009

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Aren't they all mules of some sort...hiding their secrets, living twisted lives, so that the truth gets blurred and denied. The secret agents, the government execs working on this undercover project, are as slippery as Piet and the mafia.  

Jo
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nfam
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I find the description of good guys and bad guys what you would expect. In big cities, it's often said that you tell the criminals from the cops by the color of their uniforms. In both classes there are good people and bad people. It seems to me that it depends on how the person got into the game. I find Piet particularly interesting in the regard. He seems to have his life well compartmentalized. 

 

Gren is a great character. His background and obvious love for his dead wife are very intriguing in such an otherwise hard bitten character. I find him fascinating. 

 

So far I'm enjoying the book. Occasionally, it becomes very complex trying to get into the thoughts of several characters in one scene, but that's part of the challenge. 

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tmcb
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

The good guys/bad guys line is sometimes blurred in this story. Some of the characters can be defined as the "bad" guys i.e. those working for the mafia. The police generally are the "good" guys. Piet Hoffman blurs the line, I think he is a good guy but has done bad things. Erik Wilson might be good, might be bad.. and the other gov. officals in the basement can go either way.  I find myself already rooting for piet to succeed in the end. So when he tapes the conversation at end of part one, I feel its because he doesn't trust the people he is talking with, so I don't trust them either. I am making judgments on some of the characters because of the way piet interacts with them in the story.

 

 

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bmseara
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I can't say I am judging any of the characters yet; as I feel we have only brushed the surface of each of them.  I know that I want to learn more about Gren and his dead wife and Piet or Paula.  Erik Wilson is a strange guy too and I am curious as to what he is really all about.  I can't decide if I truly trust him or not; at this point I may only trust Piet.  I think that is because in my opinion he has the most to lose. 

 

Good guy/bad guy - I believe each of them are good and bad.  It is like Piet said; they each have their "own moral code" which is not really true and it just helps them make excuses and live with what they have done on a daily basis. 

 

I am excited to see how this will turn out...Gren is going to mess things up big time for these guys and right now I just want to see Piet free and able to live his life with his wife and kids. 

 

 

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pen21
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I am still sorting the characters out. I just have a feeling that my initial impressions of good/bad will change. Gren seems very fragile mentally, but still very sharp as other characters had mentioned. Piet/Paula is walking a fine line between 2 different lives. Piet has the most potential to be misused by others, his family could be used to manipulate him.

Very good start to the book. It was hard to stop. The first 130 some pages flew by. Excellent writing. I am looking forward to continuing.

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pen21
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

 


bud12 wrote:

Aren't they all mules of some sort...hiding their secrets, living twisted lives, so that the truth gets blurred and denied. The secret agents, the government execs working on this undercover project, are as slippery as Piet and the mafia.  


 

I like what you say here. Yes they are all mules of some sort.

Thanks for the insight.

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

[ Edited ]

Very good questions Rachel

 

Yes I am suspending judgement until I get further into the read to see who really wears what color hat.

 

Piet/ complicated, jaded, living two lives

Wilson/ dedicated but willing to use what ever method works to get the bad guy

Grens/ a mystery- a combination of the Pink Panther, Colombo and Sherlock Holmes

 

I'm still in the early stages of knowing about Grens, so far we've only seen snippets of his life previous to this case

 

We know that Erik was in the US for training purposes along with other high foreign officials. I"m not sure about his background yet

 

I don't have a favorite character yet, but if you made me choose it would be Hoffmann

 

I think the authors wanted to "reel" us in and by using that first scene they whetted our curious appetites.

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DSaff
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

[ Edited ]

Rachel, you have given us excellent, thought-provoking questions again!

 

The opening definitely got things started with a bang. Reading about the man's esophagus made me feel sorry for him because I wasn't sure if he was in on whatever this was or not. But, once I found out he was a mule, I wished the rubber balls would break and ..... I have no sympathy with the choice of any of the mules. Then we started meeting the "good" guys who weren't always the good guys, and the "bad" guys who will kill without remorse. It was disconcerting to find that the police were using convicts to infiltrate the mob just as the mob uses mules. It made me wonder how much they really cared about what happened to their informants. I will withhold judgment on them until I read more, but am worried that they are users just like the mob. One person dies, recruit someone else. That doesn't look positive for the "good" guys.

 

My favorite supporting character so far is Zofia. While she is playing the part of the loving, unsuspecting wife and mother, I think there is more to her. I don't think she believes all the lies, but also don't think she knows the truth. I only hope she stays on the good side of things.

 

 

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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LorettaP
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Let me start off by saying I am really enjoying the book. I find myself reading and re-reading paragraphs afraid that I will miss something.

 

I think this book is very realistic in its good guy/bad guy roles. Having a good guy that is considered a criminal and has spent time in jail is more believable than a super cop that never does any wrong. I am very interested in how the Paula/Piet character plays out. He has alot of potential to go either way. At this point we do not know very much about Erik just that he had some kind of training in the US. I am interested in reading more about him. As for Grens, I think that he is a very good detective, very thorough with his work. Due to his wifes death he has been living in a fog for a while. I think now that he has boxed up the cassettes that he is ready to come back to the land of the living. I am predicting that he will cause alot of trouble for Erik and Paula. I think that the book started with a mule bringing drugs into Stockholm to grab our attention.

 

 

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Vermontcozy
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


pen21 wrote:

I am still sorting the characters out. I just have a feeling that my initial impressions of good/bad will change. Gren seems very fragile mentally, but still very sharp as other characters had mentioned. Piet/Paula is walking a fine line between 2 different lives. Piet has the most potential to be misused by others, his family could be used to manipulate him.

Very good start to the book. It was hard to stop. The first 130 some pages flew by. Excellent writing. I am looking forward to continuing.


Grens is the type of character that feels like you know him,or have met someone like him,..Fragile , good point..and very persistent .Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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tmcb
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


DSaff wrote:

 

 

 "My favorite supporting character so far is Zofia. While she is playing the part of the loving, unsuspecting wife and mother, I think there is more to her. I don't think she believes all the lies, but also don't think she knows the truth. I only hope she stays on the good side of things."

 


Interesting,  you would pick Zofia as your favorite. Until now I was thinking of her as not very important to the story but maybe your are on to somehting. Isthere more to Zofia than meets the eye? Will she have a bigger role in the end? You would think she would be more suspicious of Hoffman, but up to this point hasn't vocalized any doubt in her husband.  Maybe because she knows more than what he thinks she does, maybe he shouldn't be feeling "guilty" lying to her, maybe she is lying to him.

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silverwitch
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Its really interesting to see how these characters are playing out in these first 132 pages. Good cop/bad cop is a very thin line.At what point can you distinguish between the two?  Just who is Erik Wilson? Good or bad. Can he be trusted. For Piet , he seems to be struggling in what he has to do. One one hand he is a father and husband , he doesn't like lying to his wife but he has to so that he can keep his family safe.On the othe hand he seems to want to stop this drug stafficing and put these "bad" people away. I'm looking forward to see how he plays thses roles out.

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silverwitch
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

My favorite character so far is Piets Wife Zofia also.

Yes she is playing the part of the unsuspecting wife, but I have a small feeling that she suspects he's lying to her. How is he going to explain where he's going for the next three months? Business trip? No phone calls from him to his children or to her? Yeah he can lie  about wher he's going but I don't think she'll believe him. Not this time.

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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
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Quotes/thoughts about Hoffman

Here are some quotes that stood out to me and my thoughts. I am wondering what you all think of them.

 

pg. 29 - "Anger chased frustration chased dread, and he struggled to stand still with all the turmoil inside him. He had been there and he hadn't been able to prevent it. To prevent it would have meant death for him. So another person had died instead."

pg. 43 - "Another infiltrator with the same mission he had had. Who else? But the other infiltrator who sat facing him just didn't act as well. Who else? He, if anyone, should know what a faked background looked like, how it was put together, and which questions were needed to make it collapse. They had both been working for the police in their respective ways and ended up in the same place. He didn't have any choice, otherwise they might both have died, and one was in fact enough, one who wasn't him."

  There are more that fit with these two, but these two passages told me a lot about Hoffman. Hoffman has almost lost it here as he feels the such guilt over the other man's murder. There was nothing he could do. So, as the man pleaded with his eyes and voice, he did nothing. Has he lost his soul? Has he become the same as the criminals he is trying to fight against?

 

pg. 64 - "He lied to Zofia and she held him tight. He lied to Hugo and Rasmus and they hugged their daddy. He lied to Erik. He lied to Henryk. He had just lied to Zbigniew Boruc and drank another Zubrowka with him. He had been lying for so long that he'd forgotten what the truth looked and felt like, who he was."

   Hoffman appears to still have a heart here, yet things are slipping away. The game is playing seems to be leading him more to the dark side than back to his family. Yes, he loves them dearly, but I think he enjoys the game he is playing as well. What will it take for him to make a choice?

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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Annalisa13
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

It's taken me a bit to figure out who was who!  There's a lot going on already.  

I worry for Peit.  He's got these lies and double life and I'm afraid something bad is going to happen to him or his family!  He seems awfully vulnerable especially because he's almost to the breaking point (tired of lying to his family) but yet he's much closer to the goal and needs to keep going.

I liked that they started the book off with the perspective of the "mule"  I didn't figure out what was going on until the end of the first pages.  Then I figured out it was a drug "mule".  It set the story nicely.

I'm excited to read the second and third part now that I'm figuring out who is who and all the things going on!    

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hawk4ever
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

We are brought up to believe that the police are the good guys and the criminals are the bad guys.  This book is reversing those roles.  I am becoming wary that Erik Wilson is actually tied to the mafia.  He seems to be a guy who needs to be in control of everything.  I'm not sure that Piet should trust him with this plan, though I'm not sure he should be trusting anyone right now.  I'm curious to find out the purpose of his recording the meeting.  I'm sure that he is just trying to cover his own a--, but who is going to be the one to betray him.  He seems to be very conflicted with moving forward with the plan.  I don't recall reading it, was he involved with Zofia before his prison term?  He doesn't want to lose her, but will when the plan goes forward.  Does Erik have a bullet with his name on it if the plan doesn't work?

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love2overanalyze
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I like how the book shows a very thin line between good guys and bad guys and how easy it can become for that line to blur and for each to cross over to the other side.

 

I think Piet Hoffman would be my favorite character so far. It's interesting to watch him deal with the turmoil that is rolling around in his mind. I am anxious to see how his situation plays out and also whether or not his wife finds out. 

 

 

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Vermontcozy
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


hawk4ever wrote:

We are brought up to believe that the police are the good guys and the criminals are the bad guys.  This book is reversing those roles.  I am becoming wary that Erik Wilson is actually tied to the mafia.  He seems to be a guy who needs to be in control of everything.  I'm not sure that Piet should trust him with this plan, though I'm not sure he should be trusting anyone right now.  I'm curious to find out the purpose of his recording the meeting.  I'm sure that he is just trying to cover his own a--, but who is going to be the one to betray him.  He seems to be very conflicted with moving forward with the plan.  I don't recall reading it, was he involved with Zofia before his prison term?  He doesn't want to lose her, but will when the plan goes forward.  Does Erik have a bullet with his name on it if the plan doesn't work?


I was also thinking about when he met Zofia..I believe it  was during his "New" life began,,plus their sons are quite young..He was very easily  able to slip into his "Businessman" persona  and  have a somewhat normal life...But with prison pending..It will exciting to see how Hoffmann pulls this off...Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer