As someone who has written several books on the subject, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is: Has the Nordic Noir boom finally run out of steam? And I always have the same answer: no, not as long as there are still talented authors contributing strong and assured new entries to the Scandicrime genre. A Nearly Normal Family is a classic case in point. Arriving festooned with encomiums from the likes of Karin Slaughter and Scott Turow, this is a powerfully written psychological drama couched in voices from three different perspectives.
The central premise involves a man whose life is thrown into chaos when his daughter is accused of murder. The book begins in the Swedish town of Lund; at the district courthouse, a homicide trial is under way. A father watches his daughter, pale and distraught, and he knows that his own testimony will be crucial, but what will he say? His wife, the second narrator, believes that the daughter is capable of dissimulation – but it is the final testimony (that of the daughter herself) that contains the most jaw-dropping revelations.
Utilising multiple perspectives is a challenging task for any author (and several have come unstuck in this area), but perhaps the key imperative is to maintain carefully differentiated characterisations for the individual narrators. That is precisely what M.T. Edvardsson does here, and I suspect that Macmillan’s confidence in this novel’s performance in English-speaking territories will be fully justified.
Reviewed by Barry Forshaw
A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY
Written by M. T. Edvardsson
Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Published by Macmillan (2019)
Barry Forshaw’s books include Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, the Keating Award-winning Brit Noir and Nordic Noir. Other work: Death in a Cold Climate, Sex and Film and the British Crime Writing encyclopedia (also a Keating Award winner). He edits Crime Time.
Read Barry Forshaw’s #RivetingReview of KILL THE ANGEL by Sandrone Dazieri