A Nearly Normal Family

A nineteen year-old girl stands accused of the brutal murder of a much older man. Stella is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him? It must all be a terrible mistake. Chronologically told through three perspectives ingeniously organized in separate parts, we follow both the story of a crime and the unraveling of a seemingly normal family.

First we meet Adam, respected pastor in the local parish, doting husband to his wife Ulrika and adoring father to their only daughter Stella. The nightmare begins when Stella is apprehended by the police. Truth and decency have always been guiding principles for Adam, both in his profession and in his personal life, but when his daughter’s future is at stake he realizes he is prepared to lie to give her an alibi. He tells himself it’s harmless, since Stella is innocent anyway. But as we flash back to Stella’s childhood, we learn that the beloved daughter is more complicated than Adam at first let on. And under the mounting pressure of the investigation, Adam himself grows increasingly unhinged. With each new line he crosses, the once stable pillar of the community reveals an unexpected dark side…

Cut to: Stella, in a solitary jail cell. The bare concrete walls close in on the sassy teen as flashbacks reveal unexpected trauma from her childhood. Through Stella’s eyes we see the world and her family in an entirely new light. She did in fact have a relationship with the murdered Christopher Olsen, and that is not the only secret she has kept from her parents. Stella’s impudent voice unmasks the devoted father we got to know in the novel’s first third to reveal a strict control freak whose top priority appears to be not protecting his daughter, but saving face…

In the thriller’s third and final act we follow the trial through the voice and eyes of the rational but overwrought Ulrika. As a criminal defense attorney, she provides a unique perspective on the proceedings of the court and slowly but surely reveals her intricate plan to save the daughter she has spent her adult life grasping to understand. Ulrika’s ambition may get her in trouble once again as the stakes in her subversive plot are impossibly high…

Who killed Christopher Olsen, and why? In this break-out thriller, dazzling storyteller Mattias Edvardsson weaves a web in which everyone becomes entangled and nothing is what it seems. The story of a crime and of one family’s undoing is told through an unusual three-part structure that keeps the reader guessing. Everything you thought you knew is turned upside down as the perspective shifts, a new voice takes over, and fresh shadows are cast into the light.

A Nearly Normal Family is an exceptionally constructed thriller that asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect those you love? And is it ever justified to kill?

Mattias Edvardsson is a writer and teacher from Trelleborg, Sweden. His psychological suspense novel A Nearly Normal Family will be published by Forum Förlag in June 2018.

Learn more about Mattias Edvardsson