Thursday, 4 July 2019

Book Review: A Nearly Normal Family (Crime/ Mystery)

A Nearly Normal Family
M. T. Edvardsson
translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Aus
Publication date: 25th June 2019
Pages: 480
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

Nineteen-year-old Stella stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

A Nearly Normal Family is a twisty tale of deception and lies. Set in Lund, Sweden it is a gripping legal drama written in the Nordic Noir tradition.

Stella Sandell is accused of murder and as she sits in a cell awaiting trial her parents fumble, lie, take matters into their own hands, quarrel and fall apart. But mostly they question themselves. Did their parenting lead to this day?

The story is told in three parts giving the point of view of the father, a pastor, the mother, a defense attorney and the daughter, Stella.

The father: he will do anything to save his daughter, maybe even lie. Throughout he questions himself. Was he a good father? Did he do enough for Stella? Did he do too much?
I found the father’s narration a bit long and slow. He was so deeply concerned with what people would think and how he’d failed. He was worn down by cares and moral dilemmas.

Stella: Stella’s story is told in alternating present tense, in jail, and past tense, what led up to her arrest. Stella had such a commanding voice in the story and I really became to feel for her and understand her. She had a compulsion for action that she couldn’t control.

The mother: we don’t get much insight into the mother before this and she comes across as bitter and distant. Her part of the story is mainly the court case which is very intense and dramatic.

Edvardsson has used some very clever plotting feeding out small, disjointed pieces of information causing the reader to make their own assumptions by filling in the gaps. This had me changing my opinion again and again. The mystery kept me enthralled and I never guessed the twists upon twists. I was quite shocked by the ending.

Recommended for readers of family dramas and legal dramas.

A special mention to Rachel Willson-Broyles for such a smooth, faultless translation. 


 My rating    4.5/5

Content: Minimal coarse  language
                 mentions of rape

Photo credit: Goodreads

M. T. Edvardsson is a writer and teacher from Trelleborg, Sweden.

He is the author of three previous novels and two books for young readers. Edvardsson lives with his family in Löddeköpinge, Sweden.  

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  Facebook  ||  Instagram  ||  Twitter 



  1. Ooooh, yes please! I am here for this one, it sounds so good! I like thrillers that play out (at least in part) in the courtroom, I always find those parts the most fascinating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it sounds great!

    1. The courtroom scene was good. There was no hint to what was going to go down in there.