bue | BookishFirst

bue

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MT Edvardsson writes a compelling psychological thriller in the dark and disturbing Scandi-Noir tradition which gives the reader insights into Swedish law. Set in the small Swedish city of Lund, a highly respectable and upstanding local family, Adam, a Church of Sweden pastor, his wife, Ulrika, an ambitious go getting criminal defense lawyer, are horrified and shocked when their strong willed, volatile teenage daughter, Stella, is arrested on suspicion of the brutal murder of a wealthy shady older businessman, Chris. Stella, and her best friend, Amina, had met Chris a few weeks previously. The narrative is delivered from the perspective of Adam, Ulrika and Stella, where the focus is less on crime, and more on a character driven study of dysfunctional family dynamics of a 'nearly normal' family.

In a complex and multilayered story, we find out more about Adam, Ulrika and Stella, how Adam's expectations of Stella and Ulrika's intense focus on her career has resulted in a poor relationship with their daughter. We learn of Stella's rape by church camp counselor when she was 15, and Adam's dark obsession in Stella's personal life. The narrative goes back and forth in time to give us a picture of the family through time. In the present, convinced of Stella's innocence, Adam decides to look more deeply into the murder, as his life begins to increasingly spin off the rails. The trial is a riveting affair, in this suspenseful tale with some surprising twists.