An electrifying work of literary suspense from international bestselling author Katrine Engberg, this stunning debut introduces two police detectives struggling to solve a shocking murder and stop a killer hell-bent on revenge.
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.
Hailed as “inconceivably thrilling” (Fyens Stiftstidende, Denmark), The Tenant is a work of stunning originality that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
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About the Author
A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg has launched a groundbreaking 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. The Tenant is her debut novel and the start of a series hailed for its artful originality and beautiful prose.
Read an Excerpt
The morning light swirled up dust from the heavy drapes. Gregers Hermansen sat in his recliner and watched the motes dance through the living room. Waking up took him so long these days that he almost didn’t see the point. He laid his hands on the smooth, polished armrests, tipped his head back, and closed his eyes to the flickering light until he heard the final sputters of the coffee maker in the kitchen.
After a brief countdown, he got up, found his slippers, and shuffled toward the linoleum floor of the kitchen. Always the same route: along the mahogany cabinet, past the green armchair and the damn handgrip on the wall that the aide had installed last year.
“I’ll do fine without it,” he had insisted. “Thanks anyway.”
So much for that.
In the kitchen he tossed the used coffee grounds from the machine into the trash bin under the sink. Full again. Gregers untied the bag and, supporting himself along the table as he moved across the kitchen, he managed to open the back door with his free hand. At least he could still take his own trash down. He looked askance at his upstairs neighbor’s collection of bottles on the landing. Esther de Laurenti. One hell of a drinker, who held loud dinner parties for her artist friends that lasted late into the night. But she owned the building, so it was no use complaining.
The steps groaned under him as he held on tight to the railing. It might be more sensible to move somewhere safe, to a place with fewer stairs, but he had lived his whole life in downtown Copenhagen and preferred to take his chances on these crooked stairs rather than rot away in some nursing home on the outskirts of town. On the second floor, he set down the trash bag and leaned against his downstairs neighbors’ doorframe. The two female college students who shared that unit were a constant source of irritation, but secretly they also stirred in him an awkward yearning. Their carefree smiles reawakened memories of summer nights by the canal and distant kisses. Back when life wasn’t yet winding down and everything was still possible.
Once he had recovered a little, he noticed the women’s door was ajar, bright light pouring out of the narrow opening. They were young and flighty but surely not foolish enough to sleep with their back door open! It was six thirty in the morning; they may have just come home from a night on the town—but still.
“Hello...?” he called out. “Is anyone there?”
With the tip of his slipper, he cautiously nudged at the door, which easily opened. Gregers reflexively recoiled a little. After all he didn’t want to be accused of being a dirty old peeper. Better just pull the door shut and finish taking out the trash before his coffee grew stale and bitter upstairs.
He held the doorframe tightly and leaned forward to grasp the handle but underestimated the distance. For one horrible, eternal instant—like when a horse throws you until you hit the ground—he realized he wasn’t strong enough to hold his own body weight. His slippers slid on the smooth wood parquet, and he lost his balance. Gregers fought with all the strength he no longer had and fell helplessly into the women’s apartment, landing hard on the floor. Not with a bang but with a thud—the pathetic sound of an elderly man’s diminished body in a flannel bathrobe.
Gregers tried to calm himself with a deep breath. Had he broken his hip? What would people say? For the first time in many years he felt like crying. He shut his eyes and waited to be found.
The stairwell fell silent once again. He listened for yelling or footsteps, but nothing came. After a few minutes he opened his eyes and tried to get his bearings. A bare light bulb hung from the ceiling, blinding him, but he could vaguely make out a white wall; a shelf of pots and spices; against the wall leading to the door, a line of shoes and boots, one of which he was surely lying on. Carefully he turned his head from side to side to check if anything was broken. No, everything seemed intact. He clenched his fists. Yes, they felt okay, too. Ugh, that damned shoe! Gregers tried to push it out from under him, but it wouldn’t budge.
He looked down and tried to focus his eyes on it. The uneasy feeling in his stomach swelled into a suffocating paralysis that spread throughout his body. Sticking out of the shoe was a bare leg, half-hidden underneath his aching hips. The leg ended in a twisted body. It looked like a mannequin’s leg, but Gregers felt soft skin against his hand and knew better. He lifted his hand and saw the blood: on the skin, on the floor, on the walls. Blood everywhere.
Gregers’s heart fluttered like a canary trying to escape its cage. He couldn’t move, panic coursed through his impotent body. I’m going to die, he thought. He wanted to scream, but the strength to shout for help had left him many years ago.
Then he started to cry.
Copenhagen Police investigator Jeppe Kørner splashed water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror on the tiled bathroom wall. This particular mirror was concave and stretched his face tall and thin, while the one over the next sink stretched it wide. He always forgot which mirror did what until he was washing his hands. Today it was the concave, making him resemble the figure in Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. Suited him just fine.
He was looking tired and knew it wasn’t just because of the energy-saving bulbs used by police headquarters. The silly, peroxide-bleached hair didn’t help. He should never have let his friend Johannes talk him into it. Variety is the spice of life, ha! Maybe he should just shave it all off. Then at least he would look like a policeman again. Jeppe made a face at his own reflection. He was like every other newly divorced guy in the books. Classic. Next step would be to find himself a regular pub to hang out in, buy a sports car, and wear his pain on his chest like a badge of honor. Maybe even get himself a nice scar, a knife wound to match the scars he bore on the inside.
He dried his hands on the rough paper from the dispenser and looked for the trash can. Crumpled the paper towel and took a shot—it hit the floor with a limp, wet smack. Perfect, he thought, leaning to pick it up as nimbly as his sore back would allow. I’m one of those guys who misses the shot but is too duty-bound to leave a mess. He pushed open the bathroom door and headed down the hall toward his office, self-loathing flooding through his body.
With its three-sided neoclassical structure, Copenhagen Police Headquarters lent authority to its neighborhood, situated just blocks from the ever-blooming Tivoli Gardens amusement park. The building’s exterior, cold and unapproachable, was a smug beacon of power and integrity in the heart of the Nordic countries’ liberalism and nonsense, a much-needed counterweight to free pornography and record-setting alcohol consumption. On the inside, the famed circular colonnade of the inner courtyard and nineteenth-century Italianate craftsmanship softened the impression a little. Beautiful mosaics and terrazzo flooring brightened up the work days of the police staff, lying under their harried footsteps as a reminder of times when the workplace had to reflect the authority of the police force. The Homicide Department had been left in its original, somber state, with vaulted ceilings and dark red walls lit up with sconces. Practical modern furnishings clashed with the walls’ flaking paint, giving an overall impression that was equal parts dilapidated and forced.
The office Jeppe shared with his colleague Anette Werner was no exception: filled with sad laminate and molded-birch furniture and lacking any ambition whatsoever to create a cheerful work environment. Anette, on the other hand, provided just that. As he walked in, she was reclining in her chair, feet up on the desk, laughing at something she was watching on her cell phone.
“Kørner, come see this!” she said. “It’s incredible.”
“Morning, Anette,” Jeppe said from the doorway. “I thought you had class today.”
“You just won’t give it a rest, will you? The DNA class isn’t until next Wednesday. Come look at this. This fat Lab is trying to catch a ball but rolls all the way down a hill and lands in the snow.” She restarted the video and waved him over, still chuckling.
Jeppe hesitated. Eight years sharing an office and working as partners had smoothed remarkably few edges. In spite of that, he and Anette usually ended up on the same team when the police superintendent put together investigative groups for current cases. Apparently the two of them complemented each other in a way they themselves failed to see. And then there was how their last names rhymed in Danish just enough to confuse people; an endless source of irritation to Jeppe whenever they introduced themselves to witnesses or relatives.
He thought Anette was a bit of a bulldozer; she called him sensitive and a wimp. On good days they harped on each other knowingly like an old married couple. On bad days, he just wanted to throw her into the sea.
Today was a bad day.
“No, thanks, I’ll pass,” he said. “Animal humor has never really done it for me.”
Jeppe sat down on his side of the double desk, ignoring his colleague’s rolling of her eyes as he turned on the computer and pulled his phone out of his windbreaker pocket. His mother had called. He turned the phone and lay it facedown. Since his father’s death last year and Jeppe’s divorce six months ago, his mother had grown uncharacteristically clingy. He was finding it hard explaining to her that pestering him with her care wasn’t helping anyone.
Anette suppressed a new laugh across the desk and wiped her eyes on her sleeves. Jeppe sighed audibly. He’d been looking forward to having the office to himself today. Just one day for him to get to the bottom of his stacks of paperwork, without constantly having Anette’s loudness in his ears.
Yet another belly laugh shook the air and the desk. As Jeppe was about to protest, the office door banged open, and the superintendent was standing in the doorway, her coat still on. She was an older woman with a friendly face and tremendous command. Right now, a deep worry line over her brown eyes put an immediate end to Anette’s laughter and made her swing her feet off the desk. Despite the relatively flat hierarchy within the Danish police—after the police reform, most investigators held the rank of detective and were, in principle, all equals—the superintendent’s discreet authority was unquestionable.
“We have a body, a young woman,” the superintendent began. “The address is Klosterstræde Twelve, signs of foul play. The on-duty investigations officer just called. It doesn’t look good.”
Jeppe got on his feet. He should have known it was going to be one of those days.
“Forensics?” he asked.
“Nyboe. He’s on his way. So are the crime scene technicians.”
“Any witnesses?” Anette asked, also standing.
“Werner, I thought you were in class all day today,” the superintendent said. Clearly she hadn’t noticed Anette in the room. “Well, great. Then you can go, too. Kørner, I’m putting together a team; you’ll lead the investigation.”
Jeppe nodded with a conviction he didn’t feel. He hadn’t led a team since returning from his sick leave. The official reason for the leave had been a slipped disc; the unofficial, his slipped marriage.
“An elderly man who discovered the body has been taken to the hospital, but there’s another resident at the property, an Esther de Laurenti. Start by talking to her so the technicians have a chance to get the crime scene squared away in the meantime.”
“Was her name DeLorean?” Anette asked with a subtle burp, breathing the air out the corner of her mouth. “Like the car?”
Jeppe walked to the gun locker in the corner, took out his Heckler & Koch, and fastened it in his hip holster.
“Yes, Werner, like the car,” the superintendent sighed. “Exactly like that.”
ESTHER DE LAURENTI reached for the alarm and tried to stop the infernal noise from exploding her skull. The transition from dream to reality was foggy, and she couldn’t comprehend the sound of the doorbell until it rang for the third time. Her two pugs, Epistéme and Dóxa, were barking hysterically, eager to defend their territory. Esther had fallen asleep on top of her comforter and still had deep pillow marks on her face. Since retiring from her professorship at the University of Copenhagen a little over a year ago, she had let her inner type B personality take over and rarely got up before ten. Her mother’s antique brass clock with the shepherd and shepherdess on top showed 8:35 a.m. If it was that goddamned mailman, she was going to throw something heavy at him. The brass shepherds, perhaps.
She wrapped the comforter around her and made her way to the front door, her head throbbing. Had she finished that whole bottle of red wine yesterday? She had definitely had more than the two glasses she allowed herself when she was writing. Esther glanced at the stack of her printed-out manuscript, experiencing the writer’s never-ending attraction to, and repulsion from, her work. Her body longed for its morning routine: stretches, breathing exercises, and oatmeal with raisins. Maybe a Tylenol in honor of the occasion. She shook her head to clear it and looked through the peephole in the front door.
On the landing stood a man and a woman Esther didn’t recognize, although she admittedly did have trouble remembering the hundreds of students who had passed through her classrooms during her thirty-nine years in the department. But she felt quite sure these two were not former students of comparative literature. They did not look like academics at all. The woman was tall with broad shoulders, wearing a slightly too-small polyester blazer, her lips thin and cherry pink. She had a blond ponytail and skin that appeared to have endured too many years of sunbathing. The man was slim with strikingly bright-yellow hair; he might even have been charming if he hadn’t looked so pale and sad. Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses?
She opened the door. Epistéme and Dóxa barked, preparing for war behind her.
“You’d better have an unbeatable reason for waking me up at this hour!” Esther announced.
If they were offended by her greeting, they did not show it in any way.
“Esther de Laurenti?” the man asked in a serious voice. “We’re from the Copenhagen Police. My name is Jeppe Kørner, and this is my colleague, Detective Anette Werner. I’m afraid we have some bad news for you.”
Bad news. Esther’s stomach lurched.
“Come in,” she said with a frog in her throat, stepping back into the living room so the police officers could enter. Her dogs sensed the change in mood right away and jogged after her with disappointed whimpers.
“Please,” she said, sitting down on the chesterfield sofa and gesturing for the detectives to join her.
“Thank you,” the man said. He walked in a suspicious arc around the little pugs to sit down on the edge of the armchair. The woman remained in the doorway, looking around curiously.
“An hour ago, the owners of the café on the ground floor of your building found your downstairs neighbor, Gregers Hermansen, collapsed from a heart attack in the apartment on the second floor. Mr. Hermansen was taken to the hospital and is being treated now. Luckily, he was found quickly, and as far as we know, his condition is stabilizing.”
“Oh no! It was bound to happen,” Esther said, picking up the French press with yesterday’s coffee in it from the coffee table and setting it back down. “Gregers has been ailing for a long time. What was he doing down in the girls’ place?”
“That is actually what we were hoping you could help us shed some light on,” the detective said, folding his hands in his lap, regarding her neutrally.
Esther removed the comforter and laid it over the stacks of papers and discarded cardigans on the sofa. Those detectives would surely survive the sight of an old woman in her nightgown.
“Tell me,” Esther began, “do the police routinely go around asking questions every time an elderly man has a heart attack?”
The detectives exchanged a look that was hard to interpret. The man cautiously pushed a stack of books on the armchair aside and slid back more comfortably.
“Did you hear anything unusual last night or early this morning, Mrs. de Laurenti?”
Esther shook her head impatiently. First, she hated being addressed as Mrs. Second, she hadn’t heard anything other than the whale song meditation track that was her current sleep aid when the red wine didn’t cut it.
“What time did you go to bed last night?” the detective continued. “Has there been any unusual activity in the building the last couple of days, anything at all that you can think of?” His face was calm and insistent.
“You’ve chased me out of bed at the crack of dawn!” Esther replied, crossing her arms. “I’m in my nightgown and haven’t had any damn coffee. So before I answer your questions I want to know what this is about!” She pressed her lips together.
The detective hesitated but then nodded.
“Early this morning,” he began, “your downstairs neighbor Gregers Hermansen found the body of a young woman in the kitchen of the second-floor apartment. We’re still ID’ing the victim and establishing the cause of death, but we’re sure there was foul play. Mr. Hermansen is in shock and hasn’t been able to communicate with us yet. It would be helpful if you could tell us everything you know about the other residents in this building and what’s been going on for the last few days.”
Shock welled up in Esther, from her ankles, thighs, and pelvis to her chest, until she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her scalp tightened, and the short, henna-dyed hair at the nape of her neck stood on end as a prolonged shiver ran over her back.
“Who is it?” she asked. “Is it one of the girls? That can’t be right. No one dies in my building.”
She realized what she must sound like—childish and out of control. The floor gave way beneath her, and she clung to the armrest to keep from falling.
The detective reached out and grabbed her arm.
“I think that coffee might just be a good idea, don’t you, Mrs. de Laurenti?”
Reading Group Guide
This reader’s guide for The Tenant includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of 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 Kørner 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.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. Compare and contrast Jeppe’s and Anette’s personalities, attitudes, and working styles. Do you think their differences make them a good or a bad team? Why?
2. Discuss the development of Esther and Gregers’s relationship. Do you think they would have formed such a close bond if not for Julie’s murder? Why or why not?
3. When Julie was murdered, who did you first suspect was her killer? Did that change once Kristoffer was found? How did your suspicions shift throughout the novel? Did you ever suspect David?
4. Does the atmosphere of Copenhagen—the theater, the cafés, the sea—affect the story in any way? Do you think the novel could have taken place in any city? Would the novel have been as effective if set in a different city?
5. Jeppe’s divorce has a profound impact on both his personal and his professional lives. Discuss how the aftereffects of his divorce blur the line between the personal and the professional and how his ethics are then challenged. Do you think Jeppe is ethical? Do you think anyone in the novel is? Discuss why or why not.
6. On pages 130–31, Esther says, “People who carry around grief or who have faced great challenges are more interesting than the ones with easy, happy lives.” Discuss the various characters in the novel dealing with grief, loneliness, regret, and the loss of emotional connection. Do you agree with Esther that these characters are more interesting? Why or why not? Then discuss people in your own lives who have overcome challenges. How did those experiences change them?
7. Reread the passages the killer wrote on pages 162 and 218. What is their significance in the greater context of the plot? Did these help inform your suspicions as to who the killer might or might not be?
8. On page 233, Esther ponders that “writing a murder mystery is like trying to braid a spiderweb, thousands of threads stick to your fingers and break if you don’t keep your focus.” Discuss the mystery at the heart of the novel and if you think the plot twists and red herrings were effective. Were you guessing until the end of the novel, or did you predict the ending early on?
9. Discuss the meaning of the name Star Child in both Esther’s manuscript and David’s note to Julie. Why do you think the author chose this name? How would you react to someone giving you a slip of paper with the words Star Child on it? Do you think you would have reacted the same way Julie did?
10. “There’s a very fine line between seizing an opportunity and doing something that you know is just downright stupid” (p. 307). Discuss instances in the novel where the characters walked this line and whether they seized an opportunity or made a mistake. If the latter, do you think anything in the novel would have changed if they had had better judgment? Would you have made the same decisions these characters did? What would you have done differently?
11. On page 334, Jeppe muses, “You think you know a person.” Discuss the characters in the novel, their motivations, and how they surprised you throughout the book. Then, if you have a story to share, tell the group about a time a friend or family member did something extremely out of character and explain why it caught you by surprise.
12. After the killer is revealed to be David, you are given a glimpse into his young life and what eventually pushed him to murder. If he had had a different childhood, do you think he would have still become a killer? Or was he inherently evil? Discuss his motives for the killings and why you think he spared Esther. If he wasn’t caught, do you think he would have continued killing?
13. Scandinavian crime fiction is becoming more and more popular in the U.S. Compare The Tenant to American thrillers—books, TV shows, and movies. What qualities, if any, distinguish Jeppe and his team from detectives portrayed in American media?
14. One of the major themes in the novel is revenge. Discuss who seeks revenge, what motivates them, and what the consequences are.
15. Discuss the social criticisms made in the novel. In your discussion, consider violence against women; patriarchal societies; abortion, specifically forced or regulated abortions; and life in foster care.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Plan your book club meeting as a potluck dinner party worthy of Esther de Laurenti. Buy Danish pastries, like wienerbrød, for dessert, and don’t forget the wine!
2. “There was consensus that not enough children were forcibly removed from violent families in Denmark and that far too many had to live with daily abuse and incompetent parents” (p. 235). Do you think this statement applies to children in the United States as well? Discuss with your group.
3. Before your book club meeting, read Science’s online article titled “This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit” and discuss what you learned with the group. Do the findings mentioned in the article apply to Christian Stender’s confession? Why or why not?
4. With a fast-paced plot, a multifaceted setting, and relatable characters, The Tenant has all the makings of a blockbuster movie. Discuss with the group who you would cast in a movie adaption and why.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Copenhagen police detectives, Jeppe and Anette, are assigned to the murder of a young woman in The Tenant. The woman, Julie, was brutally killed in her apartment. There are a number of suspects. But why was the same murder scenario previously written by the landlady in her unpublished thriller. Could she be reenacting her plot in real life? I expect a certain dark foreboding in my Scandinavian detective thrillers. Unfortunately, that feeling was missing in this book. In fact, it has a distinctly upbeat feeling that may increase tourism to Copenhagen. However, if you avoid my erroneous assumption, The Tenant is a well-plotted police procedural set in a beautiful country rarely used in thrillers. The plot sets a good pace. The perpetrator was a genuine surprise to me. The characterizations, especially of the two main characters, are spot-on. They will make me return for the next book in the series. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars! Thanks to Scout Press, Gallery Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
2.5 stars When a blurb uses words like electrifying, stunning, and inconceivably thrilling, I expect big things. The beginning of The Tenant seems to be heading in that direction, and it does have its moments, but they are fewer and fewer as the story progresses. I really expected a more intense read given the nature of the murder that opens this story, but instead, the pacing is quite slow. I don't know if it's the translation or just the way the story is written, but it felt kind of dry. The best way I can think of to explain it is it felt a bit like listening to someone speaking in a monotone. I actually fell asleep several times while trying to push through to the end. I think the author had a good idea here, but the delivery was missing something for me. Overall, this one isn't a bad read, but it's not a particularly good one either.
"I will always be your Scar Keeper, she said, the one who carries your burdens so that you don't have to." Julie Stender is found dead in her apartment. Carved in her face is a mysterious statement piece. Detectives Jeppe and Anette set off to work the case. They find out that the landlord has been writing a book that ironically is about the murder of a young girl who is modeled off of Julie. Number one suspect: Ester. But did Ester really do that to her tenant? Is the case that easy to solve or is Ester also a victim? Can we have another novel about Jeppe? His side story was just as good as the main plot itself. The whole time I was questioning who really committed the crime. I loved getting to know about each character. We are given just enough information to feel each one out.
A well plotted, police thriller, The Tenant kept me engaged throughout. It was methodically paced rather than the blistering pace of other thrillers but that allowed the author to fully develop the characters and provide quite a few twists as the story unfolded. Recommended
Esther de Laurenti, retired from her work teaching at a university, is enjoying her life. She owns a building with several tenants and even a coffee shop on the ground floor. She hosts dinner parties with artists, she’s even started writing a crime novel. But when one of her young tenants, a young woman named Julie Stender, is murdered, with elaborate cuts across her face, Esther is stunned. Recently divorced Jeppe Korner, Copenhagen police detective, is chosen to lead the investigation, along with his partner Anette Werner. As they look into the crime, finding suspects, looking into the lives of Julie and her roommate, logging evidence, Korner and Werner discover that solving this murder will be more difficult than they first thought. When the main suspect turns up murdered as well, and the crime seems to be following the crime novel Esther had been writing, the clues seem to lead the police in several different directions. It’s only with meticulous fact-checking and attention to details that they figure out who really did kill Julie. But did they figure it out in time to save the next victim, or will there be another body on their hands? The Tenant is the first of Katerine Enberg’s bestselling novels to break into the American market, and I hope there are more. This twisted mystery is quote a ride through ups and downs as you try to put the pieces together, only to find yourself scratching your head when it all falls apart again. The detectives Korner and Werner were fully human, facing the darkness of the case with frustration, concentration, lust, hope, despair, alcohol, coffee, and junk food. I was fascinated by The Tenant. I don’t get a chance to read many books about Denmark, so this was fun in a mini-vacation sort of way. I thought the crime was especially well plotted, with lots of red herrings to twist my thinking and make me change my theory of the crime over and over. But mostly I really loved the characters, especially the police, and how they interacted with each other and with their witnesses and suspects. I can’t wait to see what Katerine Enberg brings us next! Galleys for The Tenant were provided by allery, Pocket Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.
The emotions of the characters are so real that the reader is encouraged to muddle on through the plot
Are you a Scandi mystery fan? Yes? Then you're going to want to pick up Danish author Katrine Engberg's debut novel, The Tenant, just released in the US. A young woman is found murdered in her apartment with curious cuts on her face. Her landlady Esther, who also lives in the building, is a budding novelist. And her work in progress just happens to have a murder that is eerily similar to the tenant's death. Is she a murderer? Or is one of her numerous friends a killer? Could someone be targeting her for another reason? On the case is the police detective duo of Anette and Jeppe. This pair are a large part of my enjoyment of The Tenant. They play well off each other with very different personalities. I found myself a bit more drawn towards Jeppe, as he fights his way back from some hard circumstances. The banter between the two is entertaining. And their sleuthing skills are sharp. I would read another book featuring these two leads. I thought things were headed one way, but Engberg keeps the reader guessing with additional bodies and further revelations. There was no way to predict the last 'ta-da'. I did find it a wee bit of a stretch by the final pages. Engberg fleshes out her characters well, not just the leads, but the other players as well, making them more believable and this allows them bring more to the story. The pacing is measured in The Tenant, taking a more circuitous route to the final whodunit. I enjoyed the journey! I chose to listen to The Tenant, based on who the narrator was - Graeme Malcolm - one of my all time favorites. He has such a rich, sonorous voice that is a real pleasure to listen to. It grabs and holds the listener's attention. It has a nice gravelly undertone as well. His inflection and tone capture and interpret both characters and plot extremely well.
A fast-paced thriller, The Tenant is a book that once started I had a hard time putting down. I wasn't able to discern who the killer was before it was revealed, which is a sign of a good mystery novel. There were plenty of possible suspects and red herrings to keep me guessing until the end. As a warning, there were a few graphic scenes or things that may be hard to read if your really squeamish, which normally I am. I persevered and ended up loving the book I loved the Scandinavian setting, though at times I slipped into thinking it could be set anywhere. Other than place and character names that were clearly from Denmark, I felt that most of the procedures, descriptions, etc. could have been used to describe any metropolitan area, including New York City. I would have liked to have felt more of a sense of place, but didn't feel that it detracted from my enjoyment of the book. The characters of Anette and Jeppe were well developed and I look forward to reading more in this series, as I understand there are three additional novels yet to be translated. They had great personalities, were imperfect (perfect characters are a pet peeve of mine), and they had a great relationship with each other. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of the book given in exchange for an honest review.
This was a well-plotted murder mystery with interesting characters, although not always very likable. It has a bit of “Professor T” a pinch of “Vera” and a dash of “Hinterlands”. A Copenhagen cop duo that are alternating sides of the same mirror. One is a sensitive wimp and the other is a bulldozer. Totally different personalities, annoying to each other and each totally committed to their job. Lots of side relationships, character studies and warped behavior. A bit of dark self-deprecating humor kept everything interesting. Back to the murder - typical high drama with a superintendent that needs to have it solved and put to bed quickly. That’s not happening. We have all read this type of murder mystery and as the saying goes; “It is all in the details”. The story held my interest throughout and I would definitely read another installment of Copenhagen Police investigator Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner. Hopefully the misused words and grammar will be cleared up before publication. I discovered a new favorite thought: “THERE’S A VERY fine line between seizing an opportunity and doing something that you know is downright stupid. Sometimes the road less traveled is only traveled less because it leads you straight off a cliff.” Thank you NetGalley and Gallery, Pocket Books for a copy
This is a new entry into the Nordic genre set in Copenhagen and so it contains some graphic scenes. A young lady, Julie, is found murdered with a carving into her face and some of it was made while she was alive. Yuck. The elderly man who finds her is so horrified that he has a heart attack and falls on her body. This is an older house with a business on the ground floor, the young woman and her room-mate on the next floor, the elderly man on the next floor and the owner, Esther, who has lived there her entire life on the top floor. Esther is writing a crime book and it seems to be the road map for the killing. She turns out to be in the center of activity too as there are more killings all with some type of connection to her. I like the number of unsavory characters. They were well developed and quite interesting. It kept me guessing to the end and, frankly, I did not guess the ending of the book. That's a good mystery. I loved the glimpses into life in Copenhagen including the statue completely under water. How great is that? The detective team is also great. The male is going through a heart breaking divorce and the female is heavy, married, and quite happy. I would definitely read more by this author. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
This story had a lot going for it. The plot was extremely creative, concerning an aspect of life I’m well familiar with, but don’t remember ever reading about. The use of the story within a story was also very creative (although certainly not unique). Everything was nicely tied up in the ending. The book, itself, was really tedious to read. I’ve read a fair number of novels set in Scandinavia, but don’t remember having had this much trouble with the names of people and places. It was very difficult to keep the characters straight. The place names were simply impossible – and the story jumped around all over the place. Perhaps the fault was in the translation. The characters, themselves, were not at all likable and the two main detectives did not inspire confidence nor even make me want to root for their success. I appreciate this ARC from NetGalley and from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I wish I could give more stars to this very talented writer.
I don't know what it is about Scandinavian authors that make them so good at writing "dark" fiction, but "The Tenant" is a quality representation. A young woman, Julie Stender, is found brutally murdered in her apartment, but the murder is even more disturbing when the police see that a symbol has been carved into her face. In the efforts to find the murderer, it is discovered that the murder bears striking similarities to a draft manuscript by Esther de Laurenti, who owns the apartment building, lives on the top floor, and based the victim of her manuscript on Julie. However, the existence of the manuscript was only known to a few people. As the detectives, led by Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner, dig deeper into the lives of Julie and Esther and their associates, things become stranger and stranger, especially when a mutual acquaintance, Kristoffer, appears to be the guilty party and then meets his own demise. The book is full of twists and turns and surprises. Even if you think you have figured out the killer or the motive or the hidden secrets, you are probably only partially correct. I thought the characters were well developed and interesting. While I have never been to Copenhagen, and therefore cannot verify the accuracy of the author's descriptions of parts of the cities, the author does a good job of describing various parts of the city and surrounding area and how that influences the residents. The book deals with the power of secrets, the search for belonging, the manipulative powers of a domineering personality, and the lengths people will go to protect their reputations and their family. "The Tenant" is well worth reading and I hope there are future books in the series. I received a copy of the e-book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
The Tenant is the first in a police procedural series set in Copenhagen. I wish there was more information about Copenhagen because I don’t read a lot of novels set in that city. Jeppe and Anette, police detectives who are often partnered together, have an almost sibling-like relationship; they grate on each other’s nerves regularly. Jeppe is a complicated character we learn quite a bit about. I don’t feel like I got to know Anette as well but maybe the author will dive deeper into that character in the next book. The inclusion of a main character with psychosomatic pain could have been really great but I don’t feel like I learned much about the condition; ultimately I ended up with only a vague understanding of what psychosomatic pain meant to this character. If a medical condition is used it needs to be explained well enough so that it’s an accurate representation. In this case it reads like the character is taking pain meds for no reason, that his pain is not real. Although I don’t have psychosomatic pain (so someone else can certainly address this better and I would defer to anyone more knowledgeable), it’s my understanding that for sufferers the pain is very real. This is of course my opinion and others may read this novel differently. Content Warnings: racist language Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. The opinions in this review are honest and my own. #TheTenant #mystery #suspense
This book was gripping from page 1. An older gentleman discovers his young neighbor brutally murdered one night while taking out his trash. As detectives Jeppe and Anette follow the clues they discover that the murder is described in detail by the victim's landlady in her unpublished novel. Is the landlady another victim or the perpetrator? What's the link between the two women and why is no one honest with the police detectives, including the victim's own family? Jeppe and Anette, while dealing with their own personal problems, have to wade through the lies and deceit to before the murderer kills off their suspect list. I enjoyed both the fast paced plot and the characters. Although there is a large cast of characters, the author describes them all in such a way that the reader can easily keep them all straight. The big reveal was (mostly) a surprise and I lost sleep because I had a hard time putting the book down. I definitely recommend this one to fans of mysteries, thrillers, and police procedurals. Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This was a fast paced thriller, but it had some loose ends. Some of the plot lines weren’t completed at the end. I won’t share which ones, but they were just dismissed as not being important to the case once it was solved. I was disappointed because these parts started out as good twists, but they didn’t turn out to mean anything. There were also unnecessary parallels between characters. I thought it would connect the characters who had been through similar experiences, but it ended up being meaningless. It was confusing, since multiple characters had the same backstory and it didn’t have anything to do with the plot. The murder mystery was intriguing, but the lack of answers at the end was disappointing. Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
An exciting debut novel, The Tenant, is an amazingly good thriller set in Copenhagen, Denmark. A lot of the story is told from the point of view of Jeppe Kørner, the lead detective investigating the slaying of Julie Stender, whose mutilated corpse has just been found; and Esther de Laurenti, the recently retired, aspiring author and owner of the building where Julie lived. There are striking similarities between her unfinished manuscript and the murder. The recently divorced Jeppe is depressed, suffers from insomnia and is addicted to pain killers. He’s a dedicated detective though, and will do everything in his power to find Julie’s killer. Set over the course of a week, Jeppe and his team work hard to solve this atypical case. Masterfully plotted, this clever work of crime fiction is a highly engrossing read. It grabs you with its shocking prologue and never lets you go. The characters are almost all flawed in some way, which in my opinion makes for a more interesting read. It’s a difficult case we’re presented with, but the pieces do fall into place, and it’s an entertaining ride to the satisfying conclusion.
A debut Scandanavian crime thriller featuring two police detectives, Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner, who are the Copenhagen officers assigned to the case of a brutally murdered young woman. Jeppe is the main character and he is well-drawn as a stereotypical flawed police detective who has been on the job a long time. He's divorced, but hasn't gotten over his wife leaving him. We don't learn a lot about his partner, Anette, other than she's married and that Jeppe finds her irritating. The case is a complex one and there are a few possiblities to throw you off the track of figuring out who is really the murderer. The writing is well done and I think this will make a good detective series. I would certainly read more in this series. Thanks to Gallery/Scout Press through Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In Katrine Engberg's "The Tenant," a young woman in Copenhagen is found brutally murdered and disfigured. When the police start to investigate, the case becomes more and more complicated, and the body count starts to pile up. Since the appearance of "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow," Nordic Noir has taken off in a big way. Fans of the genre, and of Miss Smilla in particular, will enjoy walking the streets of Copenhagen again, although the style and mood of "The Tenant" is very different. It's a straightforward, if cleverly plotted, police procedural/serial killer novel. The main character, Jeppe, is a recently divorced police detective with a bad back and an OxyContin problem. We also get chapters from the perspective of his partner Anette; and Esther, the retired professor who owns the building where the first murder takes place--and who turns out to be intimately involved in the case. The movement from view point to viewpoint heightens the best aspect of the book, which is its plotting. The mystery at its heart is convoluted, and the reveal is handled well, with information provided in small doses, deepening the mystery before explaining it. This is a book that will definitely keep you reading to the end in order to find out what happens. The writing style, on the other hand, is very plain, almost flat. I don't know if it's the translation or if the translation reflects the style of the original, but either way, some readers will probably like this aspect of the book, since it makes it very easy to read and follow along. Other readers may prefer a lusher, more expressive prose style. In any case, this is "Nordic Noir" for the mainstream international market, written and translated in a way that provides few barriers for the American reader. Fans of police procedural and suspense novels in general, as well as Nordic Noir, are likely to enjoy this book. My thanks to Scout Press and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
This one is fine. That's it. Fine. There's nothing wrong with it, but nothing jumped off the page as particularly right either... The characters, the setting, the pacing, the atmosphere - they were all, well, fine. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know - but on the other hand, I can't say there was anything particularly wrong with it or point to what would have made it a more compelling read for me. I guess my biggest issue is that I never felt like I connected with either of the detectives, and in scandi Noir that's usually not the case for me - the main characters are usually damaged in a way that resonates with their victims and makes for a compelling back and forth as the mystery is revealed. Not so much here. Honestly, the two detectives felt a little flat to me. I never connected with them - or the landlady and her unusual friend or the victim or the roommate or frankly anyone... And without some feeling for the characters, I struggle to truly fall into a story. I read this in fits and starts, which is unusual for me in this genre as the stories are usually so darkly engaging that I can't put them down. So maybe part of the problem is how I read it. I'd set it down and pick it back up the next day, and realize I had very little recollection of what had happened... This one never got under my skin and on the whole just wasn't for me... Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.
I just finished The Tenant and gave it 4 stars. I feel like the last half of the book was a cold-blooded game of endless cat and mouse. It was awesome! I haven't read a book like this in awhile with so many characters that were suspects, and they all looked guilty! This book had many characters, which I felt made it very complex. I feel like if it was a movie, it would be one that you learn something new each time you watch it. Do you know those kinds? All of a sudden, you have a Eureka moment and realize something that you missed in watching it the first time? This book was so well engineered. I mean, you have to pay attention or you'll miss a key piece of the puzzle. And, everyone seems to be connected to each other which makes it fascinating and bizarre. And, just when I start to connect with some of the characters, they end up dead or are next in line to be killed! This one was a nail-biter that will keep your heart pounding and your eyes flying through the words so you can figure out who's guilty. Literally, this one keeps you thinking when you put it down and have to return to life. I found myself having to back up a few pages each time I had to step away so that I could remember where I left off because it was so action-packed and eventful.
The Tanant is the first novel in Katrine Engberg’s Korner/Werner series. Much of the series is out already, but this is the first one translated to English (that I know of). It’s a Scandinavian crime novel with undeniable flair and character development. A body has turned up in Copenhagen. This isn’t the first murder the city has seen, but it is their most grisly case in recent times. Worse still is the mystery surrounding her potential killer – and their motive for doing so. Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are perhaps the two most unlikely partners you’ll ever find. But they do their jobs well, especially in regards to solving the murder of a young local woman. “Is it one of my girls? That can’t be right. No one dies in my building.” Warnings: As with many a murder mystery, The Tenant covers a couple more graphic subjects. In this case it’s mostly to do with the murder itself, which can get slightly graphic, both in description and implication. There are also mentions of stalking, mental health issues, underage relationships (past tense), and other things along those lines. I’ll be honest with you here; I didn’t quite know what to expect when diving into The Tenant. I had never read a Scandinavian crime novel, and thus really had no foundation to base any expectations off of. That being said, I really enjoyed The Tenant. Katrine Engberg did a delightful job of bringing us a unique set of characters and scenarios to read and enjoy. Honestly, the writing itself was exceptionally done – full of lush details and descriptions. Speaking of, whoever they got to translate must be very talented. I never once would have guessed that The Tenant was translated, had I not known it going into it. In fact, it seemed like they not only carried over Engberg’s intent, but much of the descriptive nature as well. There was something very…human about the characters in Engberg’s story. Our lovely detectives, Jeppe and Anette, were flawed, but that made them all the more approachable. These were not perfect action heroes, and while that sometimes resulted in them getting into cringe-worthy situations, on the whole, I think it elevated the novel that much further. As for the mystery itself? The description of this novel hints at it being another murder mystery based on a novel (written by one of the main characters, naturally). That sounds like a common trope, I know. But honestly? Engberg did something different here, and it was fun seeing the different course this change created. It wasn’t at all the trope I was expecting/fearing. I’ll admit that there were some parts that were slightly predictable or otherwise cleaned up too nicely. But that was okay with me. Sometimes it’s nice to have a cozy mystery novel, right? And in this case, it did balance out the darker elements that Engberg wrote into her story. I’m not sure if the rest of this series has been translated yet, but I’m sure that it will be in due time. I enjoyed Jeppe and Anette’s characters enough to make me eager to get my hands on the next one though! So I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.
The Tenant is the debut crime-fiction novel from Katrine Engberg. "A young girl is brutally murdered in her apartment. An intricate design is carved into her face. Copenhagen detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to find the killer. They discover an unfinished murder mystery written by the landlady that describes the murder - they find unwanted babies - and a tangle of relationships between everyone involved with the victim. And when the killer strikes again, the pressure increases to catch him before he kills again..." The first half of this book took a bit to get going and to feel like you knew enough about the characters to get the story. If you enjoy crime fiction, especially Nordic crime fiction, much of this will be familiar. There's a different feel to how crimes are handled and solved. There are some specific Danish words that didn't translate that would be nice to know (How about something in the acknowledgments?) The two main detectives make a good team - Jeppe is dealing with his recent divorce and depression and Anette is not afraid to be honest with him. There are a lot of moving pieces here - sometimes it feels like the story is careening out of control a bit. But Engberg pulls it together and gives us some unexpected twists and a wild ending. Crime fiction fans will want to read this one.
This book is a Nordic mystery from Denmark. Katrine Engberg's debut introduces us to Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner, two police detectives from Copenhagen. A young woman is brutally murdered in her apartment. Korner and Werner discover a link to Julie Stender's murder which is Esther de Laurenti, her landlord, who is a budding novelist. Julie's murder is described in the unfinished novel Esther is writing. Is Esther the killer or another victim? Katrina Engberg's writing is very good and translates well. I found the character of Jeppe Korner very interesting and flawed. I would buy book 2 just to find out more about his life. I did love the premise of Esther's book detailing the murder. There were plenty of twists that kept me guessing and the ending was surprising. I would highly recommend this book to those who love Nordic mystery. I would like to thank Gallery Scott Press and NetGalley for a free copy for an honest review.
The Tenant was a great mystery that twists and turns throughout. I thought the story itself was creative and something different other murder mysteries. I did find some sections to be text dense so that made reading slower. Overall I enjoyed it and give it 3.5 stars.
I would definitely read more by this Swedish author. A young woman is murdered, brutally murdered. As the story unfolds, you are drawn in to the lives of the police investigators. I get the feeling these characters will continue on in the author's next book with the next crime that needs solving.