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Welcome to Scandinavia – again (and again). Sweden, in this case, but not just another Scandinavian mystery novel. Yes, there’s a murder, and no, we’re not sure who the murderer is, but the mystery is not the story. The murder may be the reason we have a story, but it is not the story. The Sandells, the nearly normal family, now there’s the story. Adam Sandell is a minister in the Church of Sweden, and his wife Ulrika is an attorney. Daughter Stella is turning eighteen, finishing school and dreaming of traveling on her own in Asia. Always a headstrong girl, she’s highly intelligent, but likes control and is quick to anger. Stella loves her parents but is a challenging daughter, and as a friend, she is loyal to a fault. She stands firm in her individuality, refusing to be anyone other than her unique self. And she stands accused of murder.
Adam and Ulrika Sandell love each other deeply. They love Stella as only parents can, but each relates to her quite differently, and their reactions in the face of the charges against her are markedly different as well. A pastor and an attorney and all that is presumed to entail: morality, ethics, beliefs, legal and religious standards, personal integrity. Firm convictions and principles. Holding fast on higher ground. Really? Is it humanly possible? In these circumstances? I’d guess so; I’d certainly hope so. Is it possible for this particular pair, though?
As robust a cast of characters as you’ll find, and as flawed as human beings come. None will elicit your complete sympathy throughout. The murder victim himself is pretty despicable, and, in fact, I’m not sure Mr. Edvardsson could have pulled his concept off if the victim had been worthy of our concern. So then . . . are some less-worthy people more worthy of murder? Interesting question. Here’s another: Did Stella kill him? You know, I almost felt like I became a character in this book because there are decisions to be made, big, crucial ones; and so many people are in over their heads. And that’s where you come in. Calmer, unbiased heads must take a look. Readers, in all your infinite wisdom, I guess it’s up to you. Enjoy Sweden.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Celadon Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the publisher, the author and NetGalley for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.