Fog lies thick on New Year’s Eve as 17-year-old Jennifer walks from a teenage house party into the cold winter night – and disappears without a trace. Across town, her parents Lollo and Max are hosting their own celebrations, blissfully unaware that their lives are about to change forever. The couple’s annual New Year’s party features a gathering of old friends bound by tradition rather than fondness. Over the decades, the relationships have become riddled with jealousy, forbidden opinions about each other’s parenting, and political incorrectness. And yet, there is a sense of belonging worth holding on to. Because who knows you best if not your oldest friends?
As the first day of the new year dawns, the adults wake up to throbbing hangovers and a world in pieces. Through three distinct points-of-view, the group of friends begins to unravel: Lollo, Jennifer’s mother, an interior decorator obsessed with outer appearances who realizes that she does not know her own daughter at all; Nina, a struggling preschool teacher and Lollo’s childhood best friend who secretively thinks that the capricious Jennifer may have got what was coming to her; and Nina’s husband Fredrik, a disgruntled father of three who is clearly hiding something, and who may have been the last person to see Jennifer alive…
What really happened to Jennifer? And what role did Nina and Fredrik’s daughter Smilla play in her disappearance? The missing teenager is the catalyst that leads Lollo, Nina and Fredrik to spiral out of control, awakening dark secrets that have remained dormant for years. Tensions rise between parents who are dissatisfied with the lives they have made for themselves, and children who have begun to lead questionable lives of their own.
A Happy New Year is an addictive novel with relationships in focus where allegiances and expectations unravel in a shattering twist. Debut author Malin Stehn skillfully constructs a house of cards wherein three protagonists are forced to reconsider everything they thought they knew about each other – and about their own families. When it comes down to the wire, everyone is looking to save their own skin.
“How well do we know our friends – or family, for that matter? Malin Stehn goes deep, and it’s harrowing and true to life in a way that is rare for suspense novels. Oftentimes grief, worry, and guilt are depicted very generally. This is the real deal, and it is ceaselessly captivating and tremendously tragic. Malin Stehn skillfully plants leads for the reader to follow deeper and deeper into the bog of lies that the couples have been living in. […] This is an incredibly well-written, clever, and brilliantly composed debut that leaves me wanting more.”
Norra Skåne (SE)
“Page turner is an overused word by now, but sometimes it covers everything. As in the case of Malin Stehn’s A Happy New Year. […] An incredibly clever and well written suspense novel.”
“Malin Stehn skillfully depicts superficial friendships, the perfect life and marriage as portrayed on social media vs the secrets that are hidden beneath the surface. Through the points of view of three distinct characters – their thoughts, doubts and guilt – the story creeps closer to a harrowing reveal.”
“I was very close to taking the day off last minute – that’s how hooked I was by Malin Stehn’s debut novel. (…) The hours tick by. And the closer the clock ticks toward midnight, the more the sense of control begins to crack. Things that should never be said are spoken aloud. Thoughts that never should have crossed your mind, do. And, above all, actions are taken that you can never undo. [Stehn]’s craft is brilliant.”
Blekinge Läns Tidning (SE)
“A fantastic debut, a fascinating suspense novel. (…) I would be delighted to return to Malin Stehn in the future.”
“A new suspense novel that draws me in.”
“Stehn succeeds wonderfully in evoking sympathy for the main characters and puts the puzzle pieces of the story together in a gratifying way.”
“It is hardly a happy New Year in Malin Stehn’s tremendously immersive thriller, which fittingly enough begins with the hangover from hell. (…) What starts off as titillating becomes ever more thrilling as Stehn skillfully reveals one family secret after another. This is pure reading bliss for fans of domestic suspense and the books of Liane Moriarty.”
“If you haven’t already read A Happy New Year by Malin Stehn, do so immediately.”
“The novel is a study in how a family breaks down over what could have happened to [the daughter] Jennifer. It’s very efficiently told, much thanks to Malin Stehn’s use of multiple narrators. I highly recommend this novel which also comes with a chocking ending. Simply put, it’s a very clever and well written suspense novel.”
Tidningen Ångermanland (SE)
“A Happy New year is one of the best books I have read in this past year.”
Dast Magazine (SE)
“An impressive debut with a fascinating psychological suspense novel.”
P4 Västernorrland (SE)
“A splendid debut in the genre.”
‘A tense, slow-burn thriller looking at families and friendships and how they change over time. Believable characters and some surprising twists, a great read’
– Catherine Cooper, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalet
‘A dark, compelling missing person story set in the depths of a Swedish winter. Fans of Shari Lapena will DEVOUR this. Pacy, atmospheric and extremely thrilling’
– Will Dean, author of Book of the Year awarded Dark Pines.
‘A riveting Scandi thriller, depicting every family’s worst nightmare in exquisite detail. The clever characterisation keeps you guessing at every turn – I can’t wait to read what Malin Stehn writes next’
– Amy McCulloch, author of the Sunday Times crime book of the month Breathless