Review: The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

 

About the Book:

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.


But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

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My Thoughts:

The Tenant is a delicious Nordic Noir. This debut novel from Katrine Engberg begins with the discovery of a gruesome murder scene and follows a windy road to discovery.

Upon retirement, professor Esther de Laurenti pursues writing the novel she has always dreamed of publishing.  Her life is a little lonely and a lot boozy, but she has her lovely tenants, her singing coach, and her writers’ group.  Her life is upended when one tenant stumbles across a murder scene in another apartment.

Detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are excellent foils, and their banter provides a bit of levity to an otherwise serious matter.  Korner is moody and affected by his philandering soon-to-be ex-wife while Werner is practical and positive (and still in love with her husband).  As facts of the murder are revealed and Esther de Laurenti realizes that the murder follows her work-in-progress quite closely, the web of deceit that Korner, Werner and their colleagues must wade through nearly strangles them.  The red herrings, false starts and obstruction of justice create an understandable level of frustration for the team and allow the reader to hypothesize on various culprits and motives.

The cast of suspects and persons of interest are colorful and artsy.  I enjoyed Ms. Engberg’s depiction of the creative community in Copenhagen.  I particularly enjoyed the attention to detail about characters and places.  From the inclusion of much-loved coffee and licorice to discussion of the high rate of taxation and the mediocrity of socialized medicine, Ms. Engberg gives her readers a realistic taste of Danish culture.

The Tenant is an engaging murder mystery and a good start to a detective series.  A fairly well-paced plot and interesting characters kept me reading even though some plot points required a high level of suspension-of-disbelief.  I look forward to reading more about Korner and Werner’s cases in the future!

 

About the Author: A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg has launched a career as a novelist with the publication of The Tenant. She is now one of the most widely read and beloved crime authors in Denmark. She grew up in the heart of Copenhagen, where she still lives surrounded by family.

 

 

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