cover image A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

M.T. Edvardsson, trans. from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Boyles. Celadon, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-20443-1

Swedish author Edvardsson make his U.S. debut with an ambitious novel that focuses on the question: What would one do to save one’s child from the consequences of a horrible crime? Rebellious 18-year-old Stella Sandell has a violent temper and a penchant for getting into trouble, reflecting a need to defy her overprotective father, Adam, a Church of Sweden pastor in the town of Lund. When Stella is arrested for the murder of her lover, 33-year-old Christopher Olsen, a criminal law professor’s son with a checkered past, Adam and his lawyer wife, Ulrika, go to great lengths to help their troubled daughter. Edvardsson uses first-person narratives from Adam, Stella, and Ulrika to tell the story of the family, the crime, and the trial. This structure adds complexity and ambiguity, but the three different versions of the events result in too much repetition, dampening the suspense and weakening the denouement. This novel works better as a domestic drama than as a mystery. [em]Agent: Astri Ahlander, Ahlander Agency (Sweden). (June) [/em]