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Rachel-K
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Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice?
 
What  "adjustments" do characters make in order to assure the actions taken are perfectly legal?
 
Can you describe how individual characters wrestle with the moral (and official) choices they are making in these chapters? Which characters have difficult struggles with conscience?
 
How does each deciding official treat the idea of being responsible for what happens before and during this hostage crisis?
 
 
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 

Having only read to the point where Piet demands isolation and Grens leaves the prison I am inspired to simply say, Justice??? What is Justice??? It sure doesn't sound like there is any, so far.
Everyone, so far, is interpreting the law any old way they please to suit themselves.

Rachel-K wrote:
How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice?
 

 

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nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

For me, there's a big difference between the letter of the law and justice. Unfortunately many things are "legal" that seem morally wrong. I felt that the police establishment had become so used to using the law to justify their own actions that they had lost sight of morality. They had no qualms about burning their own infiltrator to save face. I think this happens because they lose sight of the criminals they are responsible for as real people. They're just numbers. It's harder, I think Erik Wilson found this, to use someone and destroy them when you know them as an individual with hopes and dreams and families. 

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,827
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice?

My notions of good and bad are getting totally screwed up by this novel. 

I still think that Piet and Erik are the good guys along w/Grens.

And even though I know that things like this go on in our own high offices of government I'd rather turn a blind eye to it, but when I see what the collateral damage costs in the human factor it makes me sick. And yes I'm not delusional I know this is fiction

 

Can you describe how individual characters wrestle with the moral (and official) choices they are making in these chapters? Which characters have difficult struggles with conscience?

The only character I see struggling with his conscience is the head of the Prison, the rest of the officials sitting up in their rose colored office are making me sick. They play with lives like they're refuse.

 

 

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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


dhaupt wrote (excerpt):

And even though I know that things like this go on in our own high offices of government I'd rather turn a blind eye to it, but when I see what the collateral damage costs in the human factor it makes me sick.... 


 

Realistically, these things belong not just to "high offices of government", but sometimes to the very nature of being human.  What DO/must we ignore?  Didn't Wilson make the task (path) and justification of the higher ups easier when he doctored Piet's file, yet wasn't that necessary for Piet to do his job within the prison?  Wasn't Grens a bit naive about the signals he was getting on his investigation, but couldn't he have been told enough to keep some things on hold for awhile?  Grens felt justified in his decision because of the warden hostage, not the prisoner hostage.  If he had known what Piet's role really was, we are led to believe his decision might have been (would have been?) different.

 

This social criticism seems a particular power of this novel -- it probes both institutions and  humanity itself.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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dhaupt
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


Peppermill wrote:

 


dhaupt wrote (excerpt):

And even though I know that things like this go on in our own high offices of government I'd rather turn a blind eye to it, but when I see what the collateral damage costs in the human factor it makes me sick.... 


 

Realistically, these things belong not just to "high offices of government", but sometimes to the very nature of being human.  What DO/must we ignore?  Didn't Wilson make the task (path) and justification of the higher ups easier when he doctored Piet's file, yet wasn't that necessary for Piet to do his job within the prison?  Wasn't Grens a bit naive about the signals he was getting on his investigation, but couldn't he have been told enough to keep some things on hold for awhile?  Grens felt justified in his decision because of the warden hostage, not the prisoner hostage.  If he had known what Piet's role really was, we are led to believe his decision might have been (would have been?) different.

 

This social criticism seems a particular power of this novel -- it probes both institutions and  humanity itself.


 

You are so right and when I said turn a blind eye I sort of meant personally, sort of see no evil etc. in real life. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but when we are made aware of the atrocities that are happening that's when it's time to act.

 

And yes i totally agree that this novel makes each of us battle ourselves for answers

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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


dhaupt wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

dhaupt wrote (excerpt):

And even though I know that things like this go on in our own high offices of government I'd rather turn a blind eye to it, but when I see what the collateral damage costs in the human factor it makes me sick.... 


Realistically, these things belong not just to "high offices of government", but sometimes to the very nature of being human.  What DO/must we ignore?  Didn't Wilson make the task (path) and justification of the higher ups easier when he doctored Piet's file, yet wasn't that necessary for Piet to do his job within the prison?  Wasn't Grens a bit naive about the signals he was getting on his investigation, but couldn't he have been told enough to keep some things on hold for awhile?  Grens felt justified in his decision because of the warden hostage, not the prisoner hostage.  If he had known what Piet's role really was, we are led to believe his decision might have been (would have been?) different.

 

This social criticism seems a particular power of this novel -- it probes both institutions and  humanity itself.


You are so right and when I said turn a blind eye I sort of meant personally, sort of see no evil etc. in real life. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but when we are made aware of the atrocities that are happening that's when it's time to act.

 

And yes i totally agree that this novel makes each of us battle ourselves for answers


Unfortunately, it is not always easy to agree on what are atrocities, let alone what to do about them.  I found the section "From the Authors" very powerful in describing why a drug culture within prisons and whether society is willing to pay the costs of changing that culture.

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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high96
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎11-03-2010

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

[ Edited ]

 


Rachel-K wrote:
How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice?
They are painting the government as mainly "bad" with a few people that believe in "good" and "justice"...Grens, Hermansson, Wilson. Many of the officials are bending the law to justify their means. This shows that justice can be thwarted by the powerful few and warped to serve their uses. Goransson, the national police commissioner, and the Secretary of Justice are too concerned with keeping it secret that they paid for and sanctioned drug running to try to bust an organization. They are willing to let their subordinates take the fall and do the dirty work to keep their secret and sacrifice their "employee" because he is just a criminal. 
 
What  "adjustments" do characters make in order to assure the actions taken are perfectly legal?
 The State Secretary comes up with the idea to circumvent Sweden's law SFS 2002:375 that the military can take no action against civilians by having a military sniper discharged from the Army and then hired by the police for 6 hours. At the end of the six hours he will be "rehired" by the Army to fill a "vacant" position that did not have time to be advertised for new applicants. She also tells Goransson to destroy the log book that documents the meetings between Wilson and Piet. 

Can you describe how individual characters wrestle with the moral (and official) choices they are making in these chapters? Which characters have difficult struggles with conscience?
The warden of the prison struggles with the lie he tells Grens. He also struggles with breaking prison rules concerning moving Piet from solitude back to his original cell block. He realizes that thinks are strange with prisoner Hoffman a little too late but manages to tell Hermansson his thoughts and she manages to figure out what he is saying but ends up being too late to tell Grens.
Grens is struggling with the decision to kill Hoffman, He repeatedly asks to know what his file says. He thinks there is something "off" about Hoffman as well because of his unbeknown to him "doctored" criminal file which labels him extremely violent and the fact that he has licenses for so many guns.
Goransson knew Hoffman was being burned and in fact set the whole sequence in motion by going to the national police commissioner instead of the Secretary (who may have offered a different solution -- she said on pg 317 that"You've maneuvered us into a corner. ... You have forced him to action. And now I don't have any choice, I have to act as well." ---)but struggles with the thought that they are making Grens into a murderer by putting the decision on the gold commander to order a shot to kill. Grens would be making his decision on false information and the people involved would be legitimizing murder. 
The sniper is also struggling because he brought ammunition that is not meant to wound only. It will totally destroy the target's body and kill him. He has never fired his weapon at a live human target and keeps pointing out to Grens that the shot fired will be a kill shot. 
 
How does each deciding official treat the idea of being responsible for what happens before and during this hostage crisis?
 The national police commissioner and the Secretary of Justice have decided that since they are not the ones actually pulling the trigger the fault would be on the gold commander who ordered the shot and the sniper who fired the shot--deniable culpability. When the police commissioner asks Goransson p256 "What troubles you the most? The consequences if Hoffmann talks? Or the consequences if we take action?" , Goransson finally says: "The consequences if Hoffmann talks." At this point the national police commissioner was pressuring Goransson to change his ideas of right and wrong by telling him, "What we are doing is not wrong. ...The only thing we are doing and the only thing we have done is to talk to a lawyer.... We can't be responsible for anything other than our own actions." 
 

 

"I don't like secrets! All this cooking, and reading, and TV watching, while we... read and cook! It's like you're involving me in crime, and I let you! Why do I let you?" --Emile in "Ratatouille"
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maxcat
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

Well, I'm lagging behind a bit but am up to where Piet is in solitary confinement and wants to make his only phone call. At this point, as I think someone had stated before that Swedish prisons are laid back, I do get the feeling that no one cares about him and when Goransson says Piet needed to be burned, evidently, he was. He becomes the lost soul who cannot get out of prison as Goransson does not recognize who he is by phone. Piet feels despair about the whole situation as those safety lines he was supposed to have no longer exist. The prison warden wants to send him back to voluntary confinement which is a certain death sentence. I'm starting to feel that Grens may have a big part in the ending. And I wonder if Erik Wilson is going to help Piet in time before he dies at the hands of other prisoners.

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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elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


Peppermill wrote:

 


dhaupt wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

dhaupt wrote (excerpt):

And even though I know that things like this go on in our own high offices of government I'd rather turn a blind eye to it, but when I see what the collateral damage costs in the human factor it makes me sick.... 


Realistically, these things belong not just to "high offices of government", but sometimes to the very nature of being human.  What DO/must we ignore?  Didn't Wilson make the task (path) and justification of the higher ups easier when he doctored Piet's file, yet wasn't that necessary for Piet to do his job within the prison?  Wasn't Grens a bit naive about the signals he was getting on his investigation, but couldn't he have been told enough to keep some things on hold for awhile?  Grens felt justified in his decision because of the warden hostage, not the prisoner hostage.  If he had known what Piet's role really was, we are led to believe his decision might have been (would have been?) different.

 

This social criticism seems a particular power of this novel -- it probes both institutions and  humanity itself.


You are so right and when I said turn a blind eye I sort of meant personally, sort of see no evil etc. in real life. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but when we are made aware of the atrocities that are happening that's when it's time to act.

 

And yes i totally agree that this novel makes each of us battle ourselves for answers


Unfortunately, it is not always easy to agree on what are atrocities, let alone what to do about them.  I found the section "From the Authors" very powerful in describing why a drug culture within prisons and whether society is willing to pay the costs of changing that culture.

 


There are so many levels of 'good' and 'evil' in this book, as there are in real life. Who is to say what the greater good really is? Is it good or evil to use someone like Piet in a way that will destroy his personal life? Even if he's a willing participant? But, by using him, there's a chance that the Polish mafia could be stopped - so does that make it a greater good than the consideration of Piet's life? If, by denying his existence and 'burning' him, the illusion of government stability is maintained, is that serving the greater good?

 

 

I think Grens was naive, but perhaps because he operates on facts. He ignored some signals that should have been big red flags, but maybe because, regardless of what was going on, he was determined to get to the truth. But, as we all know, sometimes the truth is hard to pin down. His truth was that Piet was involved in a murder; Erik et al.'s truth is that he's involved in a murder in a much bigger situation. And even Grens' decision, based on the life of the prison warden alone, was biased in a way that is not really moral. Isn't all life sacred on some level? If a person believes that, then the prisoner's life is just as sacred as the warden's. Chances are, the prisoner is not purely evil, just as the warden is not purely good. Grens' actions and reasons for them are flawed in the way that all humans behave. Not always the purest motives, but we do our best.

 

Oh, just some rambling thoughts here... This book introduces many interesting things to ponder.

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
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clodia2
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law


Rachel-K wrote:
How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice? 
What  "adjustments" do characters make in order to assure the actions taken are perfectly legal?
 
Can you describe how individual characters wrestle with the moral (and official) choices they are making in these chapters? Which characters have difficult struggles with conscience?
 
How does each deciding official treat the idea of being responsible for what happens before and during this hostage crisis?
 
 

Piet uses his knowledge of the rules, regulations and laws in the prison system to his advantage.  He knows just the right words to say, from who he can talk to on the phone to how many books he is allowed to have in his possession.  It is when the officials curtail the laws and rules when Piet knows he's in danger.  The authors' choice to have the "good" break the rules does throw a wrench in who you feel is good and who you feel is evil, and blurs the line of what side you feel you should be on.  The struggle the prison officials had when ordered to send Piet back to general population makes you feel sorry for the mess they are put in because of that "decision."  But, you feel no compassion for what you hope is coming for the officials who forced these officials hands, and subsequently circumvented rules so they could be a military sniper in place to clean up their mess. 

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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

[ Edited ]

 


clodia2 wrote:

Rachel-K wrote:
How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice? 
What  "adjustments" do characters make in order to assure the actions taken are perfectly legal?
 
Can you describe how individual characters wrestle with the moral (and official) choices they are making in these chapters? Which characters have difficult struggles with conscience?
 
How does each deciding official treat the idea of being responsible for what happens before and during this hostage crisis?
 
 

Piet uses his knowledge of the rules, regulations and laws in the prison system to his advantage.  He knows just the right words to say, from who he can talk to on the phone to how many books he is allowed to have in his possession.  It is when the officials curtail the laws and rules when Piet knows he's in danger.  The authors' choice to have the "good" break the rules does throw a wrench in who you feel is good and who you feel is evil, and blurs the line of what side you feel you should be on.  The struggle the prison officials had when ordered to send Piet back to general population makes you feel sorry for the mess they are put in because of that "decision."  But, you feel no compassion for what you hope is coming for the officials who forced these officials hands, and subsequently circumvented rules so they could be a military sniper in place to clean up their mess. 


But, you feel no compassion for what you hope is coming for the officials who forced these officials hands, and subsequently circumvented rules so they could put a military sniper in place to clean up their mess.

 

 

I haven't gone back to the story yet, but as I thought through how these officials made one decision that led to another decision, and then became ensnared in their own decisions, I wondered what, if any, compassion or even sympathy I had for someone who showed remorse or for someone who got entrapped by the decisions of others.  Where was it possible to break into the story when things did not go as anticipated?  Where and how could bravery and decency and honor have intervened, i.e., once set in motion how and where could the story have been different?  Did "good guy" Grens precipitate sending in the lawyer to expose Piet? Is that why he was ultimately set up as "gold commander" to also be burned -- which may or may not have been viewed as "burning" as the decisions were made?  Was the general director the weak link in the commitments from the git go, with his initial reluctances? Was Goransson where he was in the chain of command because he had advanced according to the Peter Principle to his level of incompetency?   What would competency have looked like?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 

Rachel-K wrote:
How are the authors playing with our notions of "good" and "bad" characters in a police thriller? How are the police and prison officials involved adhering to the "letter of the law" and how does this relate to the spirit of justice?
They sure make me question who in society is following the rules. Who are the good guys and the bad guys? The line between them seems to have grown very thin.
If someone who is supposedly good does something bad in the name of what they define as "good", does that justify the behavior, even if it causes "bad" results? Who defines "good"?
If even those people who are supposed to uphold the highest standards and laws of the land are easily corrupted, whom can we turn to for protection and whom can we truly trust?
After reading the first three parts of the book, I am finding it hard to define what is good and what is bad, who is right and who is wrong.
 
How does each deciding official treat the idea of being responsible for what happens before and during this hostage crisis?
 
 My response to this is way too casually!

 

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mystery-woman
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

The author play the good and bad game quite well.  We always picture the police as the good guys and the criminals as bad, but in this case, is it true? At this point in the story, it can be hard to determine.  We have officials giving orders that are not good for the people involved but is good for them.  We have other officials who have a change of heart.  The "letter of the law" is a good thing, or is it?

 

The legality of the officials actions is questionable.  They invent one cover story after another to cover their tracks.  But as usual their is always a hole that is discovered and is picked away at until all is revealed.

 

Piet struggles with doing what the police have, basically blackmailed, him into doing.  He struggles with the dilemma of doing what he can to return to a normal life.  He has no problem justifying the death of the runner, but cannot harm the prison guard who has been nice to him.  A double standard?  No, I don't think so.

 

The officials have all decided that they will do whatever they can to cover it up.  Some have their struggle with conscience and others seem not to care.  Some seem to have been down this road too many times before.

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BookWoman718
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law


mystery-woman wrote:

The author play the good and bad game quite well.  We always picture the police as the good guys and the criminals as bad, but in this case, is it true? At this point in the story, it can be hard to determine. 


I think we've come a long way from the old black and white movie days where the police were always the good guys and the criminals the bad.  In fact, in this era of cynicism and overall skepticism of all things institutional, there are a lot of people who are ready to believe the worst of police in almost any situation.   Our first round of comments are a case in point.  How many readers found it suspicious that Erik was in training in the US?  A bunch.   If you in general don't trust police, and also in general don't trust the US and its law enforcement activities, then pretty much when you put a police character into a special- training-in-the-US situation, a lot of readers will be looking askance at him.   Never mind that it is far more likely that someone is sent abroad for training because of exceptionally high job performance.   In a mystery with not much black and white, but a lot of shades of gray, we as readers are alert to all clues and determined not to be fooled by ANYONE.   

 

Having tossed all that in the ring, I should say that neither I nor anyone in my family has a law enforcement background, and that I have been fortunate enough to have had nothing but positive interactions with various police departments all over the country, wherever I have lived.  In some cases their intervention and actions have been so above their job description that I could pass out medals.  And, yes, I do know that not everyone has shared that kind of life experience. 

 

I think these authors have done a masterful job of storytelling and a part of that has been in the way we are kept off balance in a hundred small ways, not just about a 'who done it' single mystery to solve.   We don't know who to cheer for, who to distrust, why almost no one is fully 'good' or 'bad.'   We feel like we don't really know these characters fully;  that they could act in unpredictable ways.   Good and bad seem like far too simplistic terms to describe, discuss, and understand these characters.

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OKC_NookJA
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Registered: ‎08-09-2010
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


Peppermill wrote:

 

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to agree on what are atrocities, let alone what to do about them.  I found the section "From the Authors" very powerful in describing why a drug culture within prisons and whether society is willing to pay the costs of changing that culture.

 


 

Various societies have various views. But societies can mean people who are like "me". So, for instance, there are several societies in the United States as well as an American society.

 

Of course this is a big question determing what are atrocities and what to do about them. For instance, in the 1990's the U.S. government wouldn't classify the killing of millions in Rwanda as "genocide" because that would mean it had to act.

 

Dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was that saving lives or atrocities? Seems the answer to that may depend on what perspective you are coming from.

 

Sorry to get too deep into this. Seems to me sometimes there is no absolute black and white, but serveral shades of gray. But, sometimes shouldn't an issue be black and white?

 

Back to the book :smileyhappy: In the facts you mentioned in the back. We have prisons that keep people in but not drugs out. It is sad, if it as the book says, drugs are allowed to control the prison population.Especially when many of the inmates are in prison for possesing drugs.

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Peppermill
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


OKC_NookJA wrote (excerpt):
 But, sometimes shouldn't an issue be black and white?

 


Any suggested basis for the "should"? 

 

 

Fortunately, sometimes some issues do seem to be pretty clear cut to those who must deal with them.  But, don't know that anything impels them to be so.

 

Sorry to wage philosophical.  I will try to quit, but this novel sort of seems to bring that out in many of us.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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OKC_NookJA
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


Peppermill wrote:

 


OKC_NookJA wrote (excerpt):
 But, sometimes shouldn't an issue be black and white?

 


Any suggested basis for the "should"? 

 

 

Fortunately, sometimes some issues do seem to be pretty clear cut to those who must deal with them.  But, don't know that anything impels them to be so.

 

Sorry to wage philosophical.  I will try to quit, but this novel sort of seems to bring that out in many of us.


 

I guess the classic example of the Nazi's murdering millions because they don't meet what they deem to be their standard.

 

To get closer to today, as in, happening now, you could take Uganda where some politicians want the death sentence for anyone is who not "straight". Should or shouldn't that be a black and white issue? Several countries believe that it should be an executable offense.

 

I think about philosophical/political issues all the time. I like seeing how this book deals with the ones it does as well as seeing the implications of actions and beliefs in other books and in what is taking place in societies(plural intended) at large.

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Peppermill
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

[ Edited ]

That sounds to me as if the "should" you are referring to is the one of choosing life (for a human) rather than death if at all possible or feasible.  Sounds like a pretty good "should" to me, although we both know it still leaves a lot of questions on the table.


OKC_NookJA wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

OKC_NookJA wrote (excerpt):
 But, sometimes shouldn't an issue be black and white?

Any suggested basis for the "should"? 

 

Fortunately, sometimes some issues do seem to be pretty clear cut to those who must deal with them.  But, don't know that anything impels them to be so.

 

Sorry to wage philosophical.  I will try to quit, but this novel sort of seems to bring that out in many of us.


 I guess the classic example of the Nazi's murdering millions because they don't meet what they deem to be their standard.

 

To get closer to today, as in, happening now, you could take Uganda where some politicians want the death sentence for anyone is who not "straight". Should or shouldn't that be a black and white issue? Several countries believe that it should be an executable offense.

 

I think about philosophical/political issues all the time. I like seeing how this book deals with the ones it does as well as seeing the implications of actions and beliefs in other books and in what is taking place in societies(plural intended) at large.


 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Three Seconds: The Letter of the Law

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

mystery-woman wrote:

The author play the good and bad game quite well.  We always picture the police as the good guys and the criminals as bad, but in this case, is it true? At this point in the story, it can be hard to determine. 


I think we've come a long way from the old black and white movie days where the police were always the good guys and the criminals the bad.  In fact, in this era of cynicism and overall skepticism of all things institutional, there are a lot of people who are ready to believe the worst of police in almost any situation.   Our first round of comments are a case in point.  How many readers found it suspicious that Erik was in training in the US?  A bunch.   If you in general don't trust police, and also in general don't trust the US and its law enforcement activities, then pretty much when you put a police character into a special- training-in-the-US situation, a lot of readers will be looking askance at him.   Never mind that it is far more likely that someone is sent abroad for training because of exceptionally high job performance.   In a mystery with not much black and white, but a lot of shades of gray, we as readers are alert to all clues and determined not to be fooled by ANYONE.   

 

Having tossed all that in the ring, I should say that neither I nor anyone in my family has a law enforcement background, and that I have been fortunate enough to have had nothing but positive interactions with various police departments all over the country, wherever I have lived.  In some cases their intervention and actions have been so above their job description that I could pass out medals.  And, yes, I do know that not everyone has shared that kind of life experience. 

 

I think these authors have done a masterful job of storytelling and a part of that has been in the way we are kept off balance in a hundred small ways, not just about a 'who done it' single mystery to solve.   We don't know who to cheer for, who to distrust, why almost no one is fully 'good' or 'bad.'   We feel like we don't really know these characters fully;  that they could act in unpredictable ways.   Good and bad seem like far too simplistic terms to describe, discuss, and understand these characters.


 

BookWoman -- not certain we are reading the same posts.  Although I have probed "why" the distrust of Wilson, I missed any feedback that suggested it was because he trained in the U.S., although I did postulate that Americans may be distrustful of people in his role, for which there was some agreement.  Another reader pointed out that Wilson used other people, which isn't particularly conducive to trust building.  Commentators did expect him to abuse his power, but I saw little correlation with his training in the U.S.

 

My questions about training in the U.S. for sophisticated infiltration skills have had more to do with my own curiosity about what B&H might be trying to say between the lines.  Is the U.S. a leader in the directions of the future for crime busting?  Are those directions positive, negative, neutral? I don't know; I am curious.  What are the clues we are given, or is this all simply incidental to the story?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy