Review: A Nearly Normal Family – M.T. Edvardsson

The Father: believes his daughter has been framed.

The Mother: believes she is hiding something.

The Daughter: believes they have no idea what she’s truly capable of…

A Nearly Normal Family

En helt vanlig familj

M T Edvardsson

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781529008128







Every murder case starts with a suspect.

What if the suspect is your daughter?

Would you believe her, or the evidence against her?

There are three sides to the story.

And the truth will shatter this family to pieces.


“Edvardsson has written a deceptive and riveting novel. A Nearly Normal Family will make you question everything you know about those closest to you.” Karin Slaughter


“A canny, intensely suspenseful legal thriller.” Scott Turow


“One of those very special books that combine an utterly compelling premise with wonderful writing… a layered, intelligent novel that will force any parent to consider exactly how far they would go to protect their child.” Fiona Cummins

M.T. Edvardsson is a writer and teacher from Trelleborg, Sweden. He is the author of three previous novels and two books for young readers. Edvardsson lives with his family in Löddeköpinge, Sweden.


My View:

I am a fan of Scandi Crime Fiction, this read however adds a new dimension to the genre: it is not a police procedural, and is not set in bleak moody landscapes. This setting could be any town/city, this family any one’s family, the crime/crimes not particular to any landscape. However it is at heart, morally complex, intelligently written in plain, direct writing, lacking in hysteria or melodrama and has well developed characters – all characteristic of classic Scandi noir.


This book asks whose truth is the truth and far would you go to protect your child? Narrated in the voices of the three main characters, mother/wife/lawyer, father/pastor/husband, daughter/teenage rebel/victim… the psychology of, the understanding of why/how the individual responded to the physical evidence of the crime and the accusation is interesting.  At no point are we privy to the actual crime, we hear of evidence, of scenarios, of phone calls, of a witness hearing shouting, of blood pools…but not until the twisted end do we learn of the truth.


This is a slow burning mystery. Who did it? Be prepared to be surprised. Despite not particularly liking any of the characters I was invested in discovering the truth. I can see this book easily translating to the big screen.



Review: The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson

The Forbidden Place

The Forbidden Place

Susanne Jansson

Translated by Rachel Wilson-Broyles

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books


ISBN: 9781473668553

RRP $ 29.99



In the North Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.


Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.


Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…


Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.



My View:

My very first impression of this book was created by the wonderful cover art; it succinctly conveys the almost Gothic like chilliness that pervades the landscape, there is an almost palpable sense of mystery, unease and intrigue. Fog, mist, swamp, peat bogs, isolation… the landscape is such a huge character in this book.


Moody with finely drawn characters, spiced with a little history, sadness and spooky folk tales, these are the elements that provide the skeleton for this chilling narrative to build on. A great read and a wonderful debut, I look forward to reading more books by this author.


PS This is brilliantly and appears effortlessly, translated.



Post Script: Punishment – Anne Holt


Punishment (Vik & Stubø #1)

 Anne Holt

Allen & Unwin


ISBN: 9781782398714



One afternoon after school, nine-year-old Emilie doesn’t come home. Her father finds the backpack from her late mother, that would never be abandoned willingly. A week later, a five-year-old boy goes missing. And then another child.


Meanwhile, Johanne Vik, a former FBI profiler with a troubled past and a difficult young daughter, tries to overturn a decades-old false murder conviction. Police Commissioner Stubo lost his wife and daughter, has only his grandson left, and needs to solve the case. Johanna resists helping until the bodies return to their homes with notes “You got what you deserved”.



My View:

What a fabulous read!  Chapter one and a child is abducted, immediately the heart quickens, the tension on the page is palpable, the tension I am feeling is sky high. Works of crime fiction where the victims are children are never an easy read – Anne Holt however has managed to write her victims (and their deaths) with a sensitivity that gave me permission to continue reading and to enjoy this well written narrative.



Well rounded characters, multiple viewpoints, historical crime and current mysteries, this book has it all.  The characters are flawed, yet ordinary everyday people.  Ordinary yet bewitching…you will want to know more about them, you will care for them and be concerned for their outcomes.  It is a testament to the high calibre of the writing when a reader cares for the individuals created in the mind of a writer and introduced to you by mere pen and ink.


I want to read more by this author, this is definitely a series I will follow.


Originally published in 2001 this narrative has lost nothing with the passage of time, in fact the theme of “male entitlement” is just as relevant today. An excellent read!


Post Script – Oblivion – Arnaldur Indridason

Cover Oblivion


 Arnaldur Indridason

Translated by Victoria Cribb

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing 

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781473522015






A woman swims in a remote, milky-blue lagoon. Steam rises from the water and as it clears, a body is revealed in the ghostly light.




Miles away, a vast aircraft hangar rises behind the perimeter fence of the US military base. A sickening thud is heard as a man’s body falls from a high platform.




Many years before, a schoolgirl went missing. The world has forgotten her. But Erlendur has not.




Erlendur Sveinsson is a newly promoted detective with a battered body, a rogue CIA operative and America’s troublesome presence in Iceland to contend with. In his spare time he investigates a cold case. He is only starting out but he is already up to his neck.



My View:

This is the thirteenth book in the Inspector Erlendur series and it serves a couple of purposes; it is tale of two mysteries that help provide a little more insight into the reasoning/passions of the main protagonist Detective Erlendur and we discover a little more about the harsh environment that this series is set in, some of the politics and history of the Iceland.


As with all the books in this series you will not find gore and violence in forensic detail or tension and pace that will leave you exhausted, instead you get a well written narrative that is character driven and relies on thorough police investigations to solve the crimes – the old school way – speaking to witnesses, reviewing reports…making connections.  A great read. I love all of the books in this series.

Post Script: Dead Souls – Elsebeth Egholm

“Most people get what they deserve.”

Dead Souls

Dead Souls

Elsebeth Egholm



ISBN: 97807553984140




On All Hallows’ Eve, ex-convict Peter Boutrup is visiting his best friend’s grave when her estranged mother appears. Her son, Magnus, has disappeared, and she begs Peter to look for him.


The next day a young nun is pulled out of the moat at the convent in Djursland. She has been garrotted and Peter, who works there as a carpenter, was the last person to see her alive. Meanwhile, diver Kir Røjel finds an old box resting on the seabed. Inside are human bones. They are sixty years old, but the victim had also been garrotted.


While Peter is looking for Magnus, Detective Mark Bille Hansen is assigned to the case. He is determined to link the bones in the box with the girl in the moat – but the hunt for the truth leads both he and Peter down a path so dark, they fear they may never return.



My View: Dark and intriguing.

I really enjoyed this murder/mystery with its large cast of well-developed characters; some quirky, some endearing, some vile and loathsome and some you want to know more about. Character based crime fiction provides me with one of my favourite reading experiences, I like to feel invested in the characters, to know them, to watch them grow and develop over the series and I definitely want to learn more about Peter Boutrup, Kir Røjel (a great female protagonist) and Detective Mark Bille Hansen.


This narrative is shrouded in history and authenticity, as the author states in her introductory notes “In Dead Souls I have – as in all my novels – used reality as the stage set while the plot and the cast are fictious.” The settings /stage are wonderfully written – you get a great sense of place, atmosphere and landscape – including The Horn of Africa, a convent in Djursland, Denmark, deep deep waters and both isolated and city landscapes, such a varied palette.


Despite this being the second in the Peter Boutrup series it can easily be read as a standalone but I will be seeking out the first book, Three Dog Night as I enjoyed the characters and the complex plot.



Post Script: The Son – Jo Nesbo

The Son

Jo Nesbo

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781448161102





Sonny is a model prisoner. He listens to the confessions of other inmates, and absolves them of their sins.


But then one prisoner’s confession changes everything. He knows something about Sonny’s disgraced father.


He needs to break out of prison and make those responsible pay for their crimes.




My View:

The Son is perhaps the best of the Jo Nesbo books I have read (I have only read the Harry Hole series, not the standalones). Here there is great character development, a strange kind of innocence and serenity that is The Son, a wonderful love story that blossoms and warms the heart and murder, savage crimes, death and a bizarre kind of rogue justice that has you cheering for the bad guy come hero. Complex and intriguing, this novel has it all!

The Son introduces you to the bleak world of Sonny Lofthus – imprisoned for crimes he did not commit; his father a corrupt cop who commits suicide, his mother overdoses shortly after and then Sonny rapidly dissolves into the oblivion of  a heroin addiction. Life in prison follows quickly.  Here he has a special place; a place of solitude and a strange kind of respect where other prisoners’ value his stillness and confess to him their sins, seeking forgiveness in an almost religious manner. His life changes when his version of the world is torn apart with a truth that burns his gut like acid reflux and the need for vengeance and justice consume his existence.

Retribution for horrible and brutal crimes is exacted. Sonny is a gifted killer,  yet naively innocent of the world; compassionate, honest and this reader could not but help cheer him on his quest for vengeance and …love. Nesbo builds this narrative intricately, providing depth and understanding of the main characters in this book, providing the reader with a hero they can worship at the altar of street justice and villains that are truly evil and deserving all that is metered out to them, and a scorching ending that is gratifying and full of hope. A wonderful narrative that I feel truly showcases Nesbo’s talent and creative skills.  ENCORE!!!!

Post Script: Cinderella Girl – Carin Gerhardsen

Cinderella Girl

Carin Gerhardsen

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781405917865



When detective Petra Westman finds an unconscious child in an undergrowth, and shortly after stumbles upon the mother’s dead body hidden inside a grit bin, the Hammarby Police team is shocked by the gruesomeness of this case. And the strangest thing is that nobody seems to be missing the victims . . .

But just as an investigation is launched, chief investigator Conny Sjøberg is faced with yet another murder. A teenage girl has been killed aboard cruise ship Cinderella and her younger sister will be next if Sjøberg can’t uncover the killer.


My View:

Confronting on so many levels!

Gerhardsen has a way of introducing social issues into a crime novel in a manner that screams for attention yet does not reek of a lecture or a lesson on how things should be; the issues are cannily woven into the plot and add a somewhat sinister depth to the narrative. Again our eyes are opened to sexual abuse, domestic violence, cyber stalking, crimes against children in the community and sexual harassment in the workplace to name just a few of the issues you will discover in this narrative – confrontational and alarming certainly but there is a hint of redemption that rescues this novel from the depressing.


As usual Gerhardsen provides a complex plot, many surprises and a continuation of a sub plot from earlier novels in particular the one relating to the assault of Petra Westman. I really want to know more about this story, I want Westman to resolve this crime and find The Other One and bring him to justice, I suppose I will just have to wait for the next book to be translated and released.

Post Script: Guilt. A Carl Morck Novel – Jussi Alder-Olsen


A Carl Morck Novel

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Penguin Books Australia


ISBN: 9781405909780



1987. Nete Rosen thought she’d put her traumatic childhood behind her. Caring foster parents and then a loving husband gave her a new start in life. But one night a man from her past reappears, destroying Nete’s confidence – and her life. Drawn back into a terrible nightmare, she won’t be a victim again . . .

2010. Detective Carl Morck and his cold case team are looking into the case of Rita Nielsen, owner of an escort agency who vanished twenty-three years ago. As they begin poking around into Rita’s past they uncover evidence of other disappearances at the same time. It’s not one missing person case – but several.

Soon Carl and his team find that powerful and ruthless people are upset by their investigation. Either, they stop now, or they will find themselves stopped – for good.


My View:

It took me a little time to warm to the language of this narrative – the translation was excellent however I found the conversations peppered with an abrasive coarseness (lots of swearing and toilet humour that did not work for me ) that I did not notice with the earlier book I read in this series (Redemption) and also a general malaise or general negativity that I hadn’t noticed in the previous book either but was present in this episode. This negativity seemed to spread to Morck’s general assessment of life and those around him; the author didn’t seem to be celebrating uniqueness as he did in Redemption – Rose and Assad seemed flat, their very uniqueness and special qualities seemed to irritate Morck. I almost felt as if this book was written in two sections or by two authors for once I got past this early irritating stage of the book I seemed to be back in the style of writing that I enjoyed so much in Redemption

I really enjoyed the narrative – the telling from two perspectives and time periods that discussed Nete Rosen’s life, the horrors of the “social/ethnic cleansing/eugenic” polices of the time that disempowered women and minority groups, of Nete’s plans for revenge and the current period when Morck and his team enter the frame and work to solve a few cold case crimes.   I particularly liked that Assad was given more depth and allowed some initiative – I look forward to learning more of his history in future novels in this series.

And there is plenty of scope for the next book/books. Adler Olsen leaves a particularly nasty cold case that involved Morck and Hardy still in the wind…we are also given a little hope for Hardy’s recovery or partial recovery – a good thing. Overall an engaging narrative.

Post Script: Where Monsters Dwell – Jorgen Brekke

Where Monsters Dwell

Where Monsters Dwell  aka Where Evil Lies

Jorgen Brekke

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250016805




A brutal murder in Norway, a murder in Virginia—both connected to sixteenth century palimpsest of a serial murderer’s confession

A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia Stone and Trondheim police inspector Odd Singsaker find themselves working on similar murder cases, committed the same way, but half a world away. And both murders are somehow connected to a sixteenth century palimpsest book—The Book of John—which appears to be a journal of a serial murderer back in 1529 Norway, a book bound in human skin.

A runaway bestseller in Norway, Where Monsters Dwell has since sold to over fourteen countries. Where Monsters Dwell is the most awaited English language crime fiction debut in years.

Read the first 5 chapters.

My View:


This was an exciting, challenging and satisfying read. I had to push myself past the gore to enjoy this excellent work of crime fiction that was steeped in history. This book has it all – complex plot full of twists and surprises,  very likable main characters that ultimately you want to know more about, settings that cross oceans and time lines and treachery, murder, and mystery wrapped up in a Scandinavian police procedural.

Add to these elements a skilful delivery, and an author who is great wordsmith who isn’t afraid to reveal he has a has a dry sense of humour; Singsaker asks his boss/colleagues  “Are there any experts on serial crimes here in Norway?” The reply from Jensen: “We do have that cop in Oslo. I don’t remember his name. He solved a serial case in Australia in the nineties. I heard he’s turned into a drunk since then.” BRILLIANT!  I look forward to reading more by this author. 

Post Script: The Gingerbread House -Carin Gerhardsen

The Gingerbread House

Carin Gerhardsen

Penguin Books Australia


ISBN: 9781405917179



Ingrid Olsson returns home from a Stockholm hospital to discover a man in her kitchen. She’s never seen the intruder before. But he’s no threat – he’s dead.

Criminal Investigator Conny Sjöberg takes the call, abandoning his wife Åsa and their five children for the night. His team identify the body as that of a middle-aged family man. But why was he there? And who bludgeoned him to death?

Lacking suspect and motive, Sjoberg’s team struggle until they link the case to another – apparently random – killing. And discover they face a serial killer on a terrible vendetta . . .

My View:

Simply stunning – I am impressed with the clever way this multiple view point narrative weaves multiple murders and a sub plot together so deftly and intriguingly; it is a classic example of Scandinavian noir.  Gerhardsen tackles many contemporary social issues in this page turning, easy to read  crime novel; bullying, racism, sexual assault, date rape, war…so much to consider yet the writer does not assault you with the issues, with her moral code, the issues are deftly and intricately woven into the thread of the story and become integral to the story, the reader is left to quietly ponder as their conscience is pricked by the authors words.

This is a remarkable crime read; it has powerful yet quiet voice. I can’t wait for more of Carin Gerhardsen’s books to be translated.