M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.
Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?
Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?
I enjoyed this legal thriller about a daughter accused of murder and the fallout for the family — how the charges effect them, how they react, what the parents are willing to do to protect their daughter and their “happy family” appearance.
The story is told from 3 points of view, the pastor father, the lawyer mother, and the rebellious daughter accused of murder. As the novel evolves, the family history comes out and how outward appearances are not always accurate, how “normal” is not what it always appears to be once the surface is cracked, and what families, even troubled ones, are willing to do to protect each other.
The differing points of view were a good way to explore this family and their reasons for how they acted. I liked the tension and the uncertainty around who actually committed the crime. This is not an “action packed” thriller, more of a study and I did find some parts slow, especially during the father’s point of view section. Overall, though, I liked this book and the playing with the idea of what normal is and that behind closed doors we are different from the persona we present.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy of this book.
In a quiet village surrounded by ancient woods and the imposing Italian Alps, a man is found naked with his eyes gouged out. It is the first in a string of gruesome murders.
Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, a detective with a background in criminal profiling, is called to investigate. Battaglia is in her mid-sixties, her rank and expertise hard-won from decades of battling for respect in the male-dominated Italian police force. While she’s not sure she trusts the young city inspector assigned to assist her, she sees right away that this is no ordinary case: buried deep in these mountains are whispers of a dark and dangerous history, possibly tied to a group of eight-year-old children toward whom the killer seems to gravitate.
As Teresa inches closer to the truth, she must also confront the possibility that her body and mind, worn down by age and illness, may fail her before the chase is over.
I absolutely loved this book and already can’t wait for the next one in the series.
Teresa is a no nonsense police detective in Italy who has seen it all and has overcome the sexism of the police department. She is a brilliant profiler, but in this book, she comes across a murderer who can’t be profiled. She also experiences health problems and is starting to have issues with her memory, so she is against the clock to catch this unconventional killer.
Teresa is a fantastic character. I loved having someone older and relatable as the intelligent, sometimes short tempered, passionate police detective. She is determined and fallible, which makes her an interesting protagonist.
The mystery is unique and fascinating. There is an historical aspect to the book involving terrible Nazi experiments and that definitely added interest to the book.
Then there is the writing — even in translation this book is beautifully written, evoking the setting of the Italian Alps in the winter. I enjoyed just reading the great sentences and turns of phrases.
I also run a book box subscription that feature strong woman reads and this book was a no-brainer to add to one of our boxes. So far, our subscribers are also enjoying this book as well.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
In Your Hands
An internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel spanning three generations of women united in their struggle for independence and fulfillment against oppression.
Told from three different perspectives, this sweeping saga begins in 1935 Portugal, in the grip of Salazar’s authoritarian regime, where upper-class Jenny enters into an uncommon marriage with the beguiling António. Keeping up appearances, they host salons for the political and cultural elite. In private, Jenny, António, and his lover, Pedro, share a guarded triangle, build a profound relationship, and together raise a daughter born under the auspices of rebellion.
Thirty years later, their daughter, Camila, a photojournalist who has captured the revolutionary fervor and tragic loss of her family—and country—reminisces about a long-lost love in Southeast Africa. This memory shapes the future of her daughter, Natália, a successful architect, who begins an impassioned quest of her own. As she navigates Portugal’s complex past, Natália will discover herself in the two women whose mysteries and intimate intrigues have come to define her.
Through revealing journals, snapshots of a turbulent era, and private letters, the lives of three generations of women unfold, embracing all that has separated them and all that binds them—their strength, their secrets, and their search for love through the currents of change.
In Your Hands is a lovely book and told in an interesting, captivating way.
First we read from Jenny’s journals, about her life, beliefs, and desires. She is a fascinating woman in an unusual situation at a time of political unrest and in an unconventional marriage. Her journals draws the reader in to her very human story among all of the interesting circumstances of her life.
Next we read Camila’s, Jenny’s daughter, thoughts on photos she is looking at in an album. We get to know her and her upbringing in Jenny’s world. We learn about the unique challenges that Camila faced as political turmoil took over.
Finally, there are Natalia’s, Camila’s daughter, letters to her grandmother. These round off the lives, ambitions, and values of the three generations. We see how things have changed in Portugal and what a woman’s life was like, the choices she had, and how these three interesting women made their way.
I enjoyed the writing and the translation of this book, and getting to know all three generations of strong women. It was thoughtful and the three different ways of telling the story really worked for each character.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.