This book doesn’t come across as Scandi-noir exactly, because the protagonists are well-intentioned, well-educated middle-class people who are flawed rather than evil. It’s narrated in three sections: by the father (Adam, a pastor in the Church of Sweden); the daughter (Stella, an intelligent 18 yo with a fierce personality) and the mother (Ulrike, a successful defence lawyer). Edvardsson is brilliant at writing in their voices. Central to their lives and the plot is Amina, Stella’s best friend from pre-school, who has always wanted to be a doctor. The dead victim in this story is Chris Olsen, a 32 yo man with questionable business interests and an even more questionable interest in very young women. His mother may be a professor of law but he himself is a charming narcissist who seems not to have a moral compass. His mentally unstable ex unsuccessfully brought charges of abuse against him. She tries to warn Stella off.
The story opens with the arrest of Stella. We get an interesting insight into the Swedish legal system as she’s held pending the collection of evidence and her eventual trial, which turns into a terrific courtroom drama in Ulrike’s section. As each section is narrated we find out more about what’s going on in the present and more about the past: the events that shaped this family and which led to the present drastic situation. Both parents break their moral code to protect their daughter. Lies are a theme. Is it okay to tell a big whopper to the police? What about the numerous lies we tell ourselves and each other? Edvardsson is also brilliant at showing us the psychology of each character and the values that ultimately float to the top in directing their actions. How well do we know our spouses and children? Ourselves even? This is all handled deftly while we’re still kept in the dark about who really killed Chris. Yes, Stella was certainly involved but was she the actual perpetrator? In this book you get a very real feeling of what it’s actually like to face the possibility of public shame and disgrace, not to mention the incarceration of a child who for several years has wanted nothing so much as an adventurous trip through Asia. Not since Appletree Yard have I read a book that so powerfully conveys the feeling that very soon things might get seriously out of hand. It’s a compelling slow burn. Hopefully this book will be so successful that we see more of Edvardsson’s work translated into English.
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Bolinda/Macmillan audio; Unabridged edition (1 August 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1529028965
- ISBN-13: 978-1529028966
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 12.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 236 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews