Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Tenant

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg
Gallery/Scout Press: 1/14/20
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781982127572

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg is a highly recommended debut police procedural set in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case of a young woman found brutally murdered in her apartment. The victim was stabbed, beaten over the head, and then had a design carved on her face. As Anette and Jeppe investigate the murder of 21-year-old student Julie Stender, they interview her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, a hard drinking retired academic who wants to be a writer. The investigators are pursuing some of the people associated with Esther, but also Esther herself, especially when it is revealed that a description of Julie's murder turns up in the manuscript of Esther's unfinished crime novel.

Jeppe and Esther are well-developed characters, with other characters either playing a supportive role or portrayed as somewhat of an enigma. Engberg establishes the struggles the detectives have working with each other and the personality clashes they frequently experience. Jeppe is the more contemplative, cerebral of the two, while Anette is outspoken, blunt and matter-of-fact. They are definitively opposites, but they do work well together and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Other detectives in the force are also involved in the case.

The writing is good and the plot moves along swiftly. Since this is a translation of Engberg's debut novel, any qualms with the writing could be due to the translation, so I'm not basing a rating on the writing. There are several false leads in the investigation. Additionally, parts of the plot require suspending disbelief, while other elements seem commonplace and familiar elements that are found in many procedurals. The narrative alternates between characters, with Jeppe and Esther being the main focus. This is an interesting procedural where nothing is as it seems.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Gallery/Scout Press.

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