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Review: The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

The Tenant

Katrine Engberg

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…more.

My Rating:

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg is a Nordic Noir novel that takes time to develop, but after all that build up it is a complex and savory thriller/mystery. The setup is relatively simple, Detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are put on the case of a young woman found murdered in her flat. What unravels next is a series of dead ends, strange clubs, manipulations and deceit. The young woman, Julie, is not murdered in the usual crime of passion or intruder suspect. In fact, the scene is clearly pointing to well organized, pre-meditation. With a body that has been particularly mutilated, Jeppe and Anette unravel a list of suspects, from doting, obsessed father to scorned lovers.

Jeppe takes most of the lead in the pages of the novel. He is a bit of a wet noodle at the start and we learn of recent events that have left him a bit wrung out. His partner Anette, on the other hand, is a vibrant sharp-tongued woman with a minimal patience. At the start neither one of them was exactly ideal, I didn’t find myself liking or hating them. It was only as the story progressed that their characteristics made themselves known and in fact, Jeppe kind of grew on me. Their relationship is clearly the kind that somehow works, but doesn’t really feel like it should. The realism there couldn’t be more spot on, and both act as professionals with a history with one another that trumps the difference.

The Tenant is a complex web, with huge kudos going to Katrine Engberg for keeping it all straight and wrapping it in a delightfully dark little bow. It’s the kind of mystery that has you reading everyone as a suspect, and that can lead to an unsettling, creepy feeling that I thoroughly enjoy with such genres as this. I am highly intrigued to find out what sort of cases this duo might take on next. I hope they remain as dark, if not diving a little darker into the depravity of human minds.

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