Danish “literary suspension”

The Tenant is Katrine Engberg´s debut novel and the first installment in a series starring Police Sergeants Jeppe Kørner & Anette Werner at the Copenhagen Police.

The young woman Julie is found brutally murdered in her apartment with some strange markings on her face. The police soon find out that Esther de Laurentii, the old woman who owns the house Julie has been living in, is writing a book about a young girl and a very similar crime. Is Esther a killer, acting out her book?  When Jeppe and Anette dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts they discover details which shed new light on the case, but will they be able to solve it before the vindictive murderer kills again? 

Katrine Engberg, who was a successful dancer and choreographer before becoming a writer, has managed to create a multi-layered plot with many twists and turns – and many suspects. In the centre is the intriguing character Esther de Laurenti. Is she the murderer, the target or just another player in the game?

The main detectives Jeppe and Anette are definitely very contrasting personalities, but work well together. Jeppe is recently divorced and finds it difficult to come to terms with his new single life. He is well-intentioned, but often seems a bit unsure of himself. Anette doesn´t get as much focus as Jeppe, but she is vivid and unhesitating. As a team they have a certain dynamic between them and their jargong adds spark and humor to the story.

The author was born and grew up in Copenhagen and it´s obvious that the Danish capitol means a lot to her. She has told that once when she went for a stroll with her baby she saw a small sign on an old house saying ”The family Laurenti” – and that sign made her start writing this story. She makes an excellent portrayal of Copenhagen and brings the reader into a city she knows very well and to places very familiar to her, e.g. the Royal Danish Theatre and other important landmarks. Besides, Copenhagen is a perfect  city for a crime writer – it´s cheerful and green, but at the same time old and shabby with many different layers and dark secrets.

The Tenant is a great debut and I can´t wait to meet Jeppe and Anette again, hoping to learn more about their pasts as well as the cases that come next.