The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

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.

 

 

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Petersen and the Churchill Club

boys challenged hitlerOn April 9, 1940, German forces invaded Norway and Denmark.  Knud Pedersen and his family raced outside their house and looked at the sky.  Above them, German warplanes were flying low and pieces of green paper fluttered to the ground.  The German military alerted the citizens of Denmark that they arrived and were taking over the country in order to “protect them”.

King Christian X of Denmark, surrendered almost immediately, convinced that his country’s troops were unable to defeat the Nazi German forces.  Norway resisted with counterattacks with help from Allied Forces and with an underground resistance movement.

Knud Pedersen, his older brother Jens and their friends were ashamed of how their government had reacted.  Denmark had no army to stand up to the Nazis.  “One thing had become very clear: now any resistance in Denmark would have to come from ordinary citizens, not from trained soldiers” -Knud Pedersen.  After reading the newspapers and listening to radio reports from the BBC, Knud and his brother Jens decided that if the adults were not going to act, then they would.  So in the summer of 1940, the first resistance movement began in Denmark.

Knud Pedersen, Jens Pedersen and six of their friends made up the Churchill Club.  The club operated in Aalborg, Denmark for a little over a year.  But during that time, the boys managed to sabotage a lot of German operations.  The Churchill Club started small and with each success, their actions grew bolder.  They stole German weapons, destroyed train cars full of German artillery and machinery and left their mark wherever they went.  More people joined the Churchill Club.  Others assisted them as best as they could.  Of course the Nazis were angry about the attacks against them and sought to find the persons responsible.  The members of the Churchill Club were arrested in May, 1942.

The courage these young men had to defy the Nazi army amazes me.  Knud Pedersen recounts different acts of sabotage that he and his friends committed.  At times, the stories are tense and you fear for the boys safety.  And the book does not end at their arrest.  Pedersen and his friends were still defiant in jail.  Some of them were able to escape nightly and create havoc; sneaking into their jail cell early in the morning.  The Danish and German governments could not agree on what to do with the boys or how to punish them.  But the actions of the Churchill Club inspired more people to rise up and resist the Nazis.

This books is available in print and in audiobook.