A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

by M T Edvardsson
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
I received this novel as one of A-Y’s ‘surprise’ review books. He’s good to me!

It’s a bit of a curate’s egg – part thriller, part observational character study and part detective story, set in Sweden, and written for an American audience. However, with an open mind, I dived in, and found it surprisingly enjoying.

The action centres around the murder by stabbing of a wealthy socialite chap, and the arrest of a young girl as the chief (only) suspect. The story is told from three points of view – the girl’s father, a Pastor in the Church of Sweden, the girl herself, barely out of school and working in H&M before going to college, and the girl’s mother, a high-flying lawyer with many contacts in the criminal justice system. With a sprinkling of the girl’s best friend being a Moslem of immigrant parents, and the two of them being highly skilled handball players with international careers beckoning, there is potential for lots of thought-provoking interplay between the characters.

As the tale unfolds, one sees that behind every family’s façade of ‘normality’, there are undercurrents, uncertainties and lack of confidence. That however close parents think they are to their teenagers, there are things that they will never know and never should know, and that the obvious answer to a crime is never the actual solution.

I really enjoyed the book. It’s not a rip-roaring action story, but it twists and winds towards its conclusion in an interesting way. I loved its observations on modern Swedish life, family life, police procedures, the interplay between people, families and colleagues, particularly for those who hold positions of public responsibility.

I couldn’t help remembering, as I finished it, middle sister’s opinion on family strife

‘All families are dysfunctional, some are more dysfunctional than others’.

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