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Three Hours


Three Hours

The Ewert Grens series by Anders Roslund and (the late) Börge Hellström is one of those rare canons where someone like myself is often at a loss to put forth appropriate superlatives. The novels straddle genres --- police procedural, international thriller, suspense, and even horror here and there --- but in different ways each time. So even though there are characters who make their way from book to book, the viewpoints and geographical backdrops are varied and often surprisingly different. The character development and plot pacing are given equal importance as well, so that even if you guess who did what to who, and how, the characters are so spellbinding that you have no choice but to finish. And about that guessing thing? You probably will be wrong, or at least not completely right.

"While the book is hardly a slow boil, the last third moves so quickly that even the fastest of readers will find themselves barely able to keep up."

That brings us to the newly published THREE HOURS (thanks to the very well done translation by Elizabeth Clark Wessel), which is the third book to feature Grens’ former nemesis, Piet Hoffmann. Things start off with the dour, grieving Detective Superintendent Grens of the Stockholm Police called to a local morgue to investigate a somewhat unique problem: the facility has somehow acquired one body too many. The problem repeats itself the next day, while Grens and company are in the midst of their investigation.

Now, let me stop for just a moment. This puzzle would be, for some very good crime fiction writers, the mystery that takes them through an entire book. In THREE HOURS, though, it is solved almost immediately. The solution takes Grens to a seaport, where a horrific discovery is made, which then sends him overseas where he encounters his old frenemy Hoffmann, as well as Hoffmann’s family. Hoffmann is off on a frolic of his own, breaking promises to his wife for the best of reasons, though at the same time he is unknowingly putting her and their two sons in danger.

By the end of the book, there are bodies all over the place, we learn a bit more about Hoffmann, Grens keeps a couple of secrets from Hoffmann about his sons, and Grens discovers a secret about Hoffmann before Hoffmann does. Oh, and an injustice is righted, justice is done (that’s two separate things here), and Grens slowly and tentatively allows himself to feel something other than sorrow.

While the book is hardly a slow boil, the last third moves so quickly that even the fastest of readers will find themselves barely able to keep up. And, as an added bonus for longtime fans of the series (though you newbies out there can enjoy it as well), there is an author’s note that discusses how the duo originally started writing, how and why their collaboration ended, and then started up again, as well as the news that --- Hellström’s death notwithstanding --- there is promised at least one more book in the series. On the strength of THREE HOURS, you will want a hundred.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 13, 2019

Three Hours
by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström

  • Publication Date: September 3, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus
  • ISBN-10: 1681443384
  • ISBN-13: 9781681443386