Katrine Engberg’s debut mystery, The Tenant, is the first book in the exciting Korner and Werner series. Another strong entry in the Scandinavian crime genre, Engberg’s debut focuses on Danish detectives Jeppe Korner and his partner Anette Werner who reside in Copenhagen. Their latest case involves a young woman, Julie, who has newly relocated to Copenhagen alongside her friend and roommate. Julie is found murdered in her apartment after a night out with friends. Julie’s murder has undertones of a ritualistic killing pointing to Danish history. The detectives soon learn that the victim is a tenant in a building owned by a budding novelist, Esther de Laurenti, who just happens to be writing her first novel about a young women who is murdered. Her main character bears more than a passing resemblance to Julie. To complicate matters, Esther is a member of a writer’s group who share their writing with other members of the group and provide feedback to each other. Did someone have access to one member’s computer and gain access to their writing or did Esther kill her tenant?
Since de Laurenti is still actively working on her novel when the murder occurs, suspicion again turns to her when a second murder occurs and the victim is another person close to her. She quickly becomes the prime suspect but her motivation is unclear. Esther de Laurenti’s life is extremely colorful, hosting lavish parties and events for a sampling of Copenhagen’s elite. Could a fellow partygoer have a reason to frame Esther? The detectives are convinced that the crimes will continue based on her newly finished prose and urge caution when Esther convinces them to let her write another chapter in order to entrap the killer. Will the killer follow her storyline?
Looking into her past as well as Julie’s past reveals deep and dark family secrets that are decades old and have just come to light. Old alliances and friendships are revealed and mistaken identities are divulged. These revelations are coupled with detective Korner’s personal demons that run the risk of derailing the entire investigation when he becomes involved with someone close to the murders.
Filled with red herrings, mistaken identities and a possible killer that has a master plan for everyone involved, The Tenant is perfect for readers who are passionate about Scandinavian crime. The second book in the series, The Butterfly House, was just translated into English and released earlier this year. More books in the series are planned and I look forward to the complex and multilayered relationship between Detectives Korner and Werner.