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3 Seconds in Bogotá

A holiday of a lifetime.

A travel adventure in South America.

A trip to die for.

When a young adventure-seeking backpacker is thrust face-to-face with his murderer-to-be, he realises he has three seconds left to change his destiny.

A true story.


'Quentin Tarantino does Rough Guide to Colombia'


A funny and haunting tale


Hilariously scary

Book Description

3 Seconds in Bogotá

A true story written as a thriller


Quentin Tarantino does Rough Guide to Colombia.


Charming, gripping and thoughtful. This true travel account has an interesting structure, humour, pathos and a thrilling tense conclusion.


Hilariously scary


An original take on travel literature... a funny & haunting tale

Disguised as a travel memoire “3 Seconds in Bogotá” explores the path that one’s live takes to bring us to a given second… or three.

The actual event, which makes for a funny if haunting tale in a friends-gathering, could be easily explained in a page length. But the actual 3 seconds are not the core of the tale, but much more the natural consequence of the course of action of a series of decisions taken along the way.

Mark Playne successfully weaves biographical events into a very entertaining adventure, gripping and haunting at times, eerily and whimsical at others, unexpected and somehow still not surprising, as every step taken along the way inevitably leads to the next.

The story is easy to read, a real fast-paced page-turner that keeps the reader on the end of the seat, wishing to reach the final conclusion and finally understand how all paths lead the main character to his actual predicament and of course 😊 and rooting for him to come out as unscathed as possible.

Mark Playne is a gifted storyteller, with the scare gift to weave seemingly unrelated (and underrated!) everyday occurrences into a very easy to read and entertaining narrative.


A must read for any reader who is looking for an original take on travel literature and as well as everyone who enjoys a very good tale 😉

Katheyer - Good Reads

Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2023

Beware the cultural assumptions we have based on where we grew up and do not inflict them on others while we’re traveling. Every country has its propaganda and we should be cautious in believing everything. Especially, when people in other parts of the world have the opposite experience of what we’ve been taught regarding our own nation’s foreign policies and politics.

The author delved into generational trauma of someone in the story. We may think that the choices we make are our business and our business only, but we need to realize that they have a far-reaching impact:
‘One man’s infidelity set in motion a cascade of events – an avalanche of trauma that swept over the entire family.’
‘Those whose wings are denied in the physical outer world, find other ways to fly … and the price for the momentary freedom of flight was a just few pesos a hit.’
‘We were taught to dance like that when we were young girls. The older women told us that if we mastered the dances, we’d be able to hold [onto] our men.’

As someone who is mono-lingual through no fault of my own (I’ve spent many years attempting to learn French, German, Spanish, and Hebrew), I can TOTALLY relate to the author’s language mangling. I’ve heard some great stories of various faux pas and each one is a treasure. The author sprinkles his tales with pidgin Spanish and Portuguese as well as self-deprecating humor.


The format is as compelling as it is unusual.

The format is as compelling as it is unusual.

The recording of time passing is clever as the reader is taking on a tour of South America.

Traveling from one marketing opportunity to another one gets to experience this trip as if you yourself were the street vendor.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and thought the ending extraordinary!

TJ Brooks - Good Reads

What a brilliant book

What a brilliant book - I could not put it down and I don’t often say that about a book! The perfect mix of thriller, adventure and horror, mixing the fun and antics of the authors travels with the tension of a ‘millionaires taxi ride’ and then the true horror of what this world can be like (the last part is kind of optional if you don’t want to do the further reading - but I would recommend it). His style brings the South American countries to life and you can almost imagine you are there. Love, love, love it!

Andrea - Good Reads

This travel memoir had me on the edge of my seat.

This travel memoir had me on the edge of my seat as this international couple backpack their way through South America funding their trip by making and selling jewellery. it is skilfully written with the author weaving his early life and travels around a very scary moment in Bogota. It also had several laugh-out-loud moments between the pages. I also learnt a lot about the places he visited and about the culture. The reader is free to end with the story, or there is the option to explore political issues and theories if they so wish. However, as someone who will never venture into this part of the world, for me it was a great read from the safety of my own home.

Dawn - Good Reads

This 'Quentin Tarantino does Rough Guide to Colombia' may ostensibly only last 3 Seconds, but they're not at all your usual time period, rather what one might expect from Dr Who's TARDIS time-machine - much bigger and more exciting on the inside!

Told as almost an aide-memoire/journal, by the male protagonist, a backpacker/itinerant-silversmith, with frequent fascinating flashbacks, narrating his and his beautiful - but deadly-tongued if necessary - feisty Latina street-dancer girlfriend's back story, from their first meeting, then their various journeys en route to an amazingly stunning (and totally unexpected by me), concluding adventure in the eponymous Bogotá, 3 Seconds in Bogotá... by the brilliant Mark Playne, will definitely blow your mind.

Whether you absorb it completely on all its many levels - social commentary, morality' take', modern classic, urban fantasy, based on (what could be), a true story etc and which should definitely be made into an action movie, (with someone like Chris Hemsworth, Johnny Depp or Keanu Reeves as the MC/narrator and maybe Pénélope Cruz, or Anne Hathaway as the love interest) - or just as a thought-provoking fiction, there's something within for absolutely everyone.

I cannot recommend this wonderful novel, Mark Playne's 3 Seconds in Bogotá, highly enough, as it is so well-written, (not relying on foul language or graphic violence/sex scenes) and fast-pacedly engaging, that I couldn't put it down for one single second, let alone three, til I get to the end

Rosemary - Good Reads

Reads as though you are in a coffee shop catching up with a well-travelled friend

An autobiographical tale of backpacking around South America with an emphasis on the 3 most important seconds of the journey.

When I picked up my Kobo yesterday, this was not the book I meant to read. Owing to klutzy fingers and a determination to see things through, I started to read. Moments later, when the noon sun had inexplicably become the moon, I looked up and breathed. What an amazing adventure!

Told from the viewpoint of the author, 3 Seconds in Bogotá reads as though you are in a coffee shop catching up with a well-travelled friend.


Humourous and self-deprecating, Mark Playne recounts his trek around the South American continent in such a way that the reader feels as though they are there, sharing in the escapades.


Lise - Good Reads

'3 seconds in Bogotá' is a frisson of high quality suspense interwoven with lyrical bohemian vignettes and a pathos for witty, self deprecating humour.

'3 seconds in Bogotá' is a frisson of high quality suspense interwoven with lyrical bohemian vignettes and a pathos for witty, self deprecating humour. The hysterically botched rendez-vous with Luciana, (oh, believe me, much funnier stuff than Ben Stiller's tortured grimaces) infuses the whole story.
Parts of Bogotá used to be in the mid 90’s, as Afghanistan became in the early 2000: a vortex of madness, violence and scary lawlessness. Logic is implacable though: if this British geezer wrote and published the book, he can't possibly be "resting" between Jim Morrison and Moliere at "Pere Lachaise" Cemetery in Paris. He must have made it out alive. Yet, the writing style is at times so gripping, that the emotional truth has the better of the reader.

The narrative is a powerful mix of "Hitchcock bomb under the table" and flow of consciousness.

The former generates suspense and dramatic tension - the Bogota taxi driver might drive the anguished passenger in the backseat and his girlfriend, to some back alley where they will be either killed or held for ransom, while on the surface, the story takes us to the author's "axis mundi" , the grandparents's home and Luciaa's dad house, revisited, in a somewhat nostalgic key.

The time is expanded through an outburst of emotional subjective memory and these are entertaining passages but in the subterraneous waters of your mind, the question still persists : how will these bohemian but innocent backpackers reverse this macabre situation? How will they make it out alive since it's crystal clear the very writing of the book implies that the author did revisit all this as some harmless and purely aesthetic experience from the safety of his own house?

'3 seconds in Bogotá' is a caffeine filled thriller that if transferred to film - if done with the same verve and effervescence that infuses the book - could become something between black comedy, an early Tarantino film and 'Slumdog multi millionaire’.

For the British adventurer lead role, one imagines a slightly younger Tom Hiddlestone given to humorously macabre inner ruminations in voice over.

The book is highly recommended.

Rob Eugen - Good Reads

I came across this book whilst feeding my wanderlust and dreaming of exploring Colombia.

After becoming increasingly bored with the bog standard travel guides, this little gem appeared. Finally, an unbiased book about Bogotá, by someone who had actually been and experienced it.

This book did not disappoint. I won’t give anything away, but while this story unfolds, several others are also told.

I finished this book in two sittings, it was gripping, relatable and with laugh out loud humour.

I found myself lost between the pages and needing to know what happened next!
This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys adventure, suspense and surprise antidotes.

L. Rio

Original professional review in Dutch by the Latin American Website La Chispa

AI translated.

The reader finds Playne at a tricky moment in his journey, when he and his Ecuadorian girlfriend Luciana (Lucy) take a night taxi ride in the Colombian capital Bogotá. When the taxi driver takes a wrong turn, all alarm bells go off at Playne. Are they robbed, kidnapped, murdered?


He has three seconds to act, but of course it seems like an eternity. In the concrete colossus of eight million inhabitants, Playne understandably feels lost as a freshly arrived gringo.


During these three seconds, the writer talks about his journey, his life in England and the South American continent. He knows how to capture the backpacker scene well, exchange the world of travel tips, bid against each other with spectacular stories and tips on safety.


Fight, freeze or flee? Playne speaks only moderate Spanish, but fortunately he is flexible and has the Spanish-speaking Luciana by his side.


Playne lovingly tells about Lucy and her family, an impressive story about a raw life. And because he travels slowly and stays in one place for a longer period of time, he also really makes contact with people.


Meanwhile, the seconds are ticking away on the clock, Playne and his girlfriend are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. How would you react yourself, you ask yourself: fight, freeze or flight (fight, flight or freeze)?

Why write a book now about an adventure you experienced 25 years ago? Why not, you may also think. The story that Playne continues to tell is – apart from a few things – timeless, it is about the feeling of travel, the people, another world. As a young man he travelled the world and he has now recorded those experiences with humour and self-reflection.

A True Story, in his own words.

3 Seconds in Bogota is Playne's debut, but the writing profession is not unknown to him.

He has been a deserving screenwriter and film director for years with many awards in his pocket.


In short, this colourful enthusiastic story by Playne is simply recommended.

Reference sections

The true story of  3 Seconds in Bogotá refers to many real-life events of significance.

The '3 Second in Bogotá' reference section contains links to the subject matter enabling further research.


The earth-shattering theory within the epilogue is backed by a secondary section containing more detailed references.

Both sections contain video footage.


This section should only accessed once the book has been read.

sample ref pages.jpg



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