Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Butterfly House

The Butterfly House by Katrine Engberg
1/5/21; 352 pages
Gallery/Scout Press
Korner and Werner #2

The Butterfly House by Katrine Engberg is a highly recommended police procedural set in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the second book in the Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner series. The first novel is The Tenant. (The English translation was published 1/14/20.)

After an opening scene where a nurse is planning to give a patient a fatal injection, the narrative jumps back to six days earlier. Lead investigator Jeppe Kørner has just been told of a body found in a fountain with small incisions on her body. He later learns that she died from exsanguination, or the draining of all the blood in her body. Since Anette is off and at home on maternity leave, Jeppe is working with Detective Falck, who is decidedly more low energy compared to Anette. When another body is found in a foundation who died the same way as the first, a connection between the two victims leads back to the Butterfly House, a now-closed teen psychiatric facility. The murder weapon is even more bizarre, it was a  bloodletting device called a scarificator.

At the same time, Anette is not doing well on maternity leave. With a newborn, she is exhausted all the time, and likely experiencing some postpartum depression. She misses working. When she hears about the murders, she goads some information out of Jeppe and begins assisting with the investigation on her own.

Engberg further develops the characters of Jeppe and Anette and again provides interesting supporting characters. Jeppe is still a reserved and reticent character, but this time out Anette is also keeping quiet about her activities until she has something to share with Jeppe. Her husband doesn't know she is investigation on the sly at all. Again, the two complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Falck, who is almost portrayed as a joke also comes into his own. The suspects are numerous and all of them are interesting individuals. You will have several predictions, but won't really know exactly what is going on until the end. The final denouncement of the investigation is surprising and worth the lead up to it.

Again, and qualms I had about the writing (some odd word usage, grammar, punctuation etc.) are certainly due to the translation. And since I have an advanced readers copy many could be all cleaned up in the final edition. My review rating is based on the plot and characters. Apparently this is a longer series that is being translated so hopefully we will see more of Jeppe and Anette.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Gallery/Scout Press

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