Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Evardsson
Published: June 25th 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 3.5 stars
A Nearly Normal Family is the stunning psychological thriller from M. T. Edvardsson and asks what would you do if your child was suspected of murder, how far would you go to protect them? Do you want to know the truth? If you loved A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window or J. P. Delaney’s The Girl Before, you will love this.
Every murder case starts with a suspect.
What if the suspect is your daughter?
Would you believe her, or the evidence against her?
Believes his daughter has been framed.
Believes she is hiding something.
Believes they have no idea what she’s truly capable of . . .
There are three sides to the story.
And the truth will shatter this family to pieces.
A seemingly normal family finds their whole world shattered when a terrible crime strikes at the very heart of their existence. A Nearly Normal Family is about the fight for justice and innocence. It is also about family protection and sacrifice. Crime fans and thriller readers will appreciate all this deceitful and puzzling novel has to offer.
A Nearly Normal Family is about a murder case that directly involves a pastor, his lawyer wife and his teenage daughter. When his daughter is cast as the prime suspect in a local murder, this local pastor makes it his mission to release his daughter of all charges. It is a task that proves to be heartbreaking and eye opening, revealing a litany of secrets, lies and underhanded actions. A Nearly Normal Family carefully unveils three separate versions of the same story, through a trio of guises. There is the father, who is under the impression that his daughter has been incorrectly charged for a crime she didn’t and couldn’t possibly commit. Then there is the suspect herself, Stella, who is definitely hiding something about this case. Finally, Ulrika, a largely absent mother uses her lucrative position in the law system to help exonerate her daughter, which comes at a cost. By the time this case is closed, it will rock the Sandell family to their very core.
Originally published in Sweden in 2018 as ‘En Helt Vanlig Familj’, A Nearly Normal Family is a 2019 translation of M.T. Evardsson’s novel. This crime thriller and domestic family drama also draws in elements of a courtroom drama. It is complex, driven and ambiguous, leading the reader down one path and then taking them on a completely different route. It will draw you in from the hooking prologue and gradually unveils a surprising truth by the close of the book.
I don’t think I have read a book penned by a Swedish author before and this crime thriller definitely intrigued me from the synopsis. Segregated in three different parts, with an accompanying prologue and epilogue, this one jumps around a fair bit. Once you get settled in the style of one narration, Evardsson will quickly transports you to another varied perspective. However, there are some areas that link together and they help to answer a few issues in the proceedings of this trying crime case.
Evardsson does a good job of delving into the different psyches of his characters. He dances in the mind of a father, daughter and mother. I will admit that I had a hard time initially with Adam, the father and pastor figure of this novel. His narration is peppered with quite a lot of conversations with God, which did become trying and repetitive. Evardsson also draws in the viewpoints of the daughter of this tale’s close childhood friend, along with the authorities involved in the case. Each is brought to life in a believable fashion and they work to draw in the reader further into this pit of despair of a family at crisis point.
What I appreciated about this novel was the opportunity to look at the same situation from a different set of eyes. These perspectives were often skewed, or unreliable. There were moments where I felt the wool was definitely being pulled over my eyes, along with the key players of this novel, it was an interesting scenario. What I also appreciated was the legal based scenes, which really opened my eyes up to the contrast in the system of law in our country, compared to Sweden. Likewise, we get a very good insight into the process of incarceration in Sweden, which is different to Australia.
A Nearly Normal Family is really one of those novels where you are deliberately kept in the dark and the unknown is ramped up to a very high score. This translation mostly worked for me, but there was something about this book that didn’t work for me. I wasn’t sure if it was the pace, or the plotting, the translation, or something else entirely. However, I would recommend A Nearly Normal Family to aficionados of crime and thriller based books, I think this one will be sure to strike your interest level.
A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Evardsson was published on 25th June 2019 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of A Nearly Normal Family, M.T. Evardsson, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*Book #1 of the 2020 International male author challenge.