⇒“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.” -The Tenant ⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Scout Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Author: Katrine Engberg
(3.67 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery
Publication Date: January 14, 2020, by Scout Press
Pages: 368 (Kindle version)
Sound is equivalent to life, except when the sound is a doorbell bearing bad news, then sound is equivalent to death.
We’ve all heard the saying that art imitates life. Is it true, and is it equally true the other way around? I think a solid argument for either is demonstrated very well in The Tenant. Here’s the blurb…
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.
A lack of evidence and divergent theories are not the optimum combination for solving a crime.
I started out loving this book. There’s just something about Scandinavian crime-fighters that piques my morbid interest. We’ve got Danish backdrops, imperfect main characters, a grisly murder, and a killer who is going off the rails. Can it get any better? The jury’s still out on that.
Although I do consider this a good series debut for Anette and Jeppe’s characters, somewhere in the middle the wheels fell off. Were there too many suspects? Too much internal conversation? Too much of not enough? I can’t precisely put my finger on it, but whatever it was, it made a good book just not quite click for me.
The second we die, we become someone’s job. In some ways a crime scene is reminiscent of a theater production. A web of silent agreement that, taken altogether, makes up a whole. On cue.
Ultimately, I gave this book a star and a half for captivating character development in Jeppe, a star for the excellent first few chapters, and a star for the future potential of this police procedural/detective series. I wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters as long as the plots stay original and the action doesn’t drag.
Oh, and let’s learn more about Anette’s backstory next time!
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.