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cubicleblindnessKM
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎10-07-2010

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Well I am not prepared at all for this first weeks discussion. I read these questions on Monday and have been thinking about them for two days now, reading the other comments and have to admit there is just so much happening in the first section I felt lost and a little overwhelmed.

     I want to agree with bud12 that so far the characters all seem like some kind of mule. That was a great comment.

     I agree with pen21 that I am also trying just to sort all the characters out. I cannot say that I have really come to like or dislike any of them and will have to read some more before deciding.

    I also agree with LorettaP that I found myself have to re-read several pages over because it jumps back and forth and like I said I felt kinda overwhelmed with so much information in this beginning section.

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rosia408
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎12-01-2009
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


ncwise wrote:

I agree with what you are saying about Zophia - I am very interested to see how things play out with her.


I really like Zophia too. I think there is more to her than we have been shown in part one. She can't be oblivious to Piet and all his secretivness about his work. Perhaps she has a double life too?

 

Rose

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cubicleblindnessKM
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I agree with that, I do think that they all seem to be leading double lives

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MSaff
Posts: 272
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

  I am personally suspending judgment on all characters so far.  I don't trust any of them, and until they can prove their worth, I think that they are all bad guys.  I will respectfully say that they may be playing the bad guy part very well in order to get deeper infiltration into the Mafia and the Drug Trade, but I don't know that I could pull that type of cover off. 

 

  I describe each of our major characters as complex to say the least.  It's just too early in the novel to be able to make informed judgments about any of the characters, especially when three of the characters is one person.  Which of the three do you want to trust?(Piet, Paula, Hoffmann).

 

  Grens is a special character.  He is dealing with the death of his wife, and while packaging up the stereo and all the cassettes, he is remembering her fondly.  He did spend too much time outside the Nursing Home, where apparently his wife had resided for a time, before her death.  I feel sorry for him, and knowing that the cassettes are bringing comfort to him is a relief. 

  The packing up of all these belongings and reminders of his wife, he is finally letting go, and allowing her memory to fill his mind. 

 


Rachel-K wrote:

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?
 
 
 

 

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/
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robloi
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-02-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I have no expectations of the characters at this point probably because of the writing styles. As tberra (reply # 52) pointed out, the rapid pov changes can be disconcerting. I wonder if the authors write in tandem or are responsible for individual characters. In any case the staccato style has reduced the characters to the brilliant but eccentric grieving Grens v the tormented conflicted anti hero Hoffman.

 

The boxing of the cassettes seems to be an attempt for Grens to move on with his life. Siw Malmkvist appears to be the iconic figure for his generation.He even uses her birthdate as his reference number when he brings the boxes to the property room.

 

Nils Krantz seems to have potential as a supporting character.

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DawnGR
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎11-03-2010

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I had a hard time in the very beginning of the story but the further I got into it it was a bit clearer what roles people were playing in the story. Opening with the "mules" taking drugs into stockholm helps to set up "WHY" different agencies could be working together yet, keeping secrets from each other. each has a different job that it is trafficing, murder and dealing on different levels.

 

I would describe Peit as a man who is trying for the love of his family to turn his life around. He is reached a point that he understand the meaning of family and unconditional love. He needs to make ammends and bring credibility back to his life by helping to catch these criminals. Even if it means his own life is at stake.

 

Gern is "old school" cop. His mind is continously working, he is always on the job. He has been suffering extreme grief and guilt and I saw the boxing up of the cassettes as a way for him to move on, without completely letting go. He is intrusting those memories to a loyal friend who understands. I feel a little sad for him. His grief and maybe need to prove himself still capable of being on the job.

 

 

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”
Elizabeth Hardwick

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DawnGR
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎11-03-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I agree that the government/ agencies working in this are as slippery as the criminals or infiltrator are. Also did not surprise me that training took place outside of Sweden. Often you hear about  training people in agencies or department from outside of ones country.

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”
Elizabeth Hardwick

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elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

[ Edited ]

 


Rachel-K wrote:

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?

 
Like many others here, at this point I really don't trust most of these characters. I think the one person who is the most trustworthy is Grens, but he has some important 'chinks in his armor' relating to his attachment to his late wife that might perhaps cloud his judgment in some way. He is trying to move on, but I know from personal experience that grief has a way of keeping things from being clear. I guess time will tell... I do like Zofia, but we know so little about her. I don't think it's good enough to say she's the mother of those adorable boys, or that she is a devoted wife - she has to know something is going on, so there must be a reason she allows it to continue and remains married to Piet. She raises a red flag here. I think Erik is the least trustworthy of the bunch. He's involved in some way in military/spy training, then he appears as Piet's attorney, if I'm not mistaken - what exactly is he?? And who's side is he on?? We think it's Piet's, but can we be certain at this point? He's all in favor of Piet serving time and setting up the drug connections in prison, I have a hard time believing that he's so altruistic.
Why the mules? Great question, I'm still mulling that one over. Maybe just to give us that perspective right from the start, because so much of the drug trade relies on these human containers. It's a difficult, dangerous task, but each individual is really only a small cog in that big drug machinery. And no less dangerous than Piet's job, the police's job, and for a very small reward. Seeing it from the mule's level just lets us see the whole picture, from the 'ground up'.


 

 

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
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Lizard16
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Registered: ‎08-20-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Wow, this book starts off with a lot of activity.  It is taking me a while to sort out all of the characters and what their roles are....still working on most of them. 

 

I think all of the characters are good and bad in many ways.  I don't see any as standing out as purely good or bad but mostly shades of grey. 

 

The major characters have their own flaws that they are bringing to light and it is too early to describe them in detail as of yet.

 

Gren is a troubled guy but he seems to have been very focused and detailed in his past...until the death of his wife.  Then his whole world fell apart.  It seems however, he is starting to find his way back.  When he boxed up his cassettes he was closing a chapter on his life and begining anew.

 

Erik Wilson is still a mystery to me at this point.

 

I like Piet's wife so far as my favorite supporting character.

 

I think that opening with the perspective of a mule shows that in a way all of the characters are mules in their own way.  They are all carrying unwanted baggage with them in this journey and looking for a way out.

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tjewell
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-05-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

Leslie - I think you are very perseptive.  I agree with all that you say.  I, too am still sorting out all the characters and what their roles are.

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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Three Seconds: Part One


deana99 wrote:

How would you describe each of our major characters so far?

Piet is my favorite character so far...we are sympathetic to him as he struggles to separate and control his two lives.  I am curious about his history...he does not seem like a hardened criminal.  I wonder what he did in his past, how bad he really was, how he got involved with the police as an infiltrator...and why he is risking his happiness and family.  I also wonder how he and Zofia met.  I would like to learn more of her character in the book.  I worry for her and the children when she finds out that he is "known armed and dangerous" in his upcoming arrest.  I feel that I have judged Piet to be a good guy...who has made some mistakes in the past. 

 

Grens seems like a brilliant investigator...but seems almost handicapped by his own history.  I think packing up the cassettes and diving into this crime is the start of his "coming back".  I would like to see his character get stronger and overcome some of his issues, as the book goes on. 

 

Erik Wilson is still a mystery to me as well.  He seems to play a good guy...seems to be very smart, resourceful, and loyal to Piet.  But I also wonder about his history..and who he really is.  I believe there is a lot we have yet to know about this character.  He is the one that I have reserved judgement for so far.  I want to trust him, for Piet's sake...but have to hesitate. 

 

 Why do we open the novel in the perspective of one of the Polish "mules" taking drugs into Stockholm?

I agree with an earlier post that the use of the mule's story to start the book set the tone of "fear".  You feel the desperation and fear in the mules, and later with Piet. 

 

I am really enjoying this book so far!  I am anxious to continue, and pass it on to my husband as well. 


an excellent point about the theme of fear deana. I am already tense just reading it. I know I would never be brave enough to live in such a world.

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Bonnie824
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


DawnGR wrote:

I had a hard time in the very beginning of the story but the further I got into it it was a bit clearer what roles people were playing in the story. Opening with the "mules" taking drugs into stockholm helps to set up "WHY" different agencies could be working together yet, keeping secrets from each other. each has a different job that it is trafficing, murder and dealing on different levels.

 

I would describe Peit as a man who is trying for the love of his family to turn his life around. He is reached a point that he understand the meaning of family and unconditional love. He needs to make ammends and bring credibility back to his life by helping to catch these criminals. Even if it means his own life is at stake.

 

Gern is "old school" cop. His mind is continously working, he is always on the job. He has been suffering extreme grief and guilt and I saw the boxing up of the cassettes as a way for him to move on, without completely letting go. He is intrusting those memories to a loyal friend who understands. I feel a little sad for him. His grief and maybe need to prove himself still capable of being on the job.

 

 


I see Peit as someone who has grown too Dawn and seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to feel good about himself now.

 

Bonnie

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abags
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

I'm also anxious to read how Piet is going to explain to Zofia that he is going away.  I find Piet's relationship with his sons to be very sweet, nice contrast to the nefarious characters he typically associates with.

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abags
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

It definitely took me awhile to get into the book due to all of the jumping around.  But I would say that I don't trust any of the characters yet.  Everyone seems to be playing for both the good guys and the bad guys.  I've found myself rooting for Piet even though he may be a "bad guy."

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abags
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎11-03-2010

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

After Piet/Paula's meeting with the officials at the end of part one, it made me think about informants being strategically placed in prisons and if/how often that might actually happen.  Gives correctional facility a new meaning.

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DawnGR
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One


abags wrote:

After Piet/Paula's meeting with the officials at the end of part one, it made me think about informants being strategically placed in prisons and if/how often that might actually happen.  Gives correctional facility a new meaning.


I think it happens alot. The problem is countries laws on "entrapment" but also the thought that just because the informant may have had a criminal past or whatever, they are expendable. That is scary to think a persons life no matter what they have done could have such little meaning to someone to get what they want to need.

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”
Elizabeth Hardwick

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wjbauer
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎12-02-2009
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

How does the novel so far  challenge our expectations of good guys and bad guys?  Are you suspending judgment of some characters?
 
Larson, the Director General, Is not a person to trust. He is being told what he is supposed to do and he doesn't like it which means Piet Hoffman is in for a bad stay.
I am not trusting Erik Wilson and thinking that when the going gets tough he gets going.  He is in Georgia training for a program for European policeman for handling informers and infiltrators. At present he is working with 5 people including Paula(Hoffman), which I believe could cause a responsibility overload.
Piet is burning the candle at both ends with the Mafia and Police. I hope he doesn't get burned because I like his character, a man who wants to place is family first in his life. 
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Three Seconds: Part One-PARALLELS

 

I am late to the reading because of some unexpected personal issues so I am not yet prepared to answer the questions, but I have noticed some parallells in the descriptions of some of the characters as they have been introduced.

 

The mule was standing at the railing on the boat, watching the water. He was frightened.

Ewert Grens stopped his car on the bridge and looked at the water, searching for peace.

 

The mule could not sleep .

Erik Wilson found sleep eluding him. He was lonely.

 

Ewert Grens was consumed with love for his wife. He was lonely for his deceased wife.

Piet Hoffman was consumed with love for his wife. He was lonely for his wife when he traveled.

 

Ewert Grens stayed in his office all night. sleeping dressed, on the hard floor.

Piet Hoffman lied down on the hard hotel bed, fully clothed.

 

Has anyone else noticed any other similarities? I wondered if they were intentional and would have greater meaning later on or were they merely accidental.

 

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thewanderingjew
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Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Three Seconds: Part One

[ Edited ]

Rachel-K wrote:

How does the novel so far  challenge our expectations of good guys and bad guys?

 

Some of the characters are both good and bad guys. It is a difficult road to follow. Piet is Paula and the buyer who was murdered was also some kind of a double agent. It surprised me that Piet called attention to the buyer, since he seemed to recognize that he was probably an investigator of some kind, as he was. He felt it was a matter of him or the other guy dying, yet, if he had remained silent, they might both have lived. I suppose he didn't want to have the drug bust since he was working hard to infiltrate the drug running mob. Still it bothered me that someone working to infiltrate the mob to expose it, who seemed to be on the right side of the law, would sacrifice someone else working toward the same end. Does the end justify the means in this case?

Correspondent
LadyMin
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎11-29-2009

Re: Three Seconds: Part One

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

Rachel-K wrote:

How does the novel so far  challenge our expectations of good guys and bad guys?

 

Some of the characters are both good and bad guys. It is a difficult road to follow. Piet is Paula and the buyer who was murdered was also some kind of a double agent. It surprised me that Piet called attention to the buyer, since he seemed to recognize that he was probably an investigator of some kind, as he was. He felt it was a matter of him or the other guy dying, yet, if he had remained silent, they might both have lived. I suppose he didn't want to have the drug bust since he was working hard to infiltrate the drug running mob. Still it bothered me that someone working to infiltrate the mob to expose it, who seemed to be on the right side of the law, would sacrifice someone else working toward the same end. Does the end justify the means in this case?


 

Piet/Paula is not going to let anything stop him from completing his mission of infiltrating the mob. In the first few pages when he phones Erik to tell him of the unexpected delivery and Erik tells him to pull out, it's too dangerous, he hangs up the phone and goes it alone. He watches another man die rather than risk ruining the mission with a drug bust. He says he loves his wife and misses his family and yet he is willing to repeatedly lie to his wife and even leave them for several months to go to prison to infiltrate even deeper.

 

For Piet the end justifies the means. I don't understand yet why he is so driven but there must be something in his past that would make him want to take down this drug mob at any cost.