What is it about a well-written detective novel that can make you feel so smart and so clueless at the same time? The thrill of tracking each clue along with the protagonists, making your best guesses at the murderer’s identity, only to discover that you were so wrong, is a distinct and curious pleasure of the genre. And from Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot, Harry Hole to Jane Tennison, Europe offers a host of compelling options to choose from.
Jeppe KØrner and Anette Werner now take their place alongside those famous names; set in Copenhagen, Katrine Engberg’s series is an international phenomenon that’s now breaking out in the U.S. Her latest novel, THE HARBOR, finds the odd-couple detective duo called to investigate the case of a missing teen from a well-to-do family. There are no clues other than a mysterious note with an Oscar Wilde quote . . . and the longer it takes Jeppe and Anette to track the boy down, the more likely their missing person case will turn into a murder investigation.
Immediately we meet a host of possible suspects, but every time you think, “Aha, it’s that guy,” Engberg throws another twist at you. The plot pulls together threads of art, class, and environmentalism in a way that seems almost impossible to unite, and yet comes together in a satisfying conclusion. Perhaps unusual for a suspense novel, Engberg also explores the theme of parenting throughout. There are a host of parent-child connections in this book, each of them challenging in their own way, which layers poignancy under the tension and gives THE HARBOR more “heart” than a typical thriller.
Another charm of Engberg’s series is the way in which Copenhagen itself feels like a character—Jeppe and Anette’s search leads them through all sorts of neighborhoods, from a coastal fortress to the museum district to a supermodern incinerator complex called the CopenHill. (It’s a real thing! They built a park on it and you can actually ski down the roof!) You’ll feel like you’re walking through the streets and dipping into a sauna yourself . . . and you’ll definitely be tempted to put Copenhagen on your travel bucket list.
If you’re looking for a twisty suspense novel to make you think and feel, I recommend THE HARBOR. And don’t miss the previous adventures with Jeppe and Anette, THE TENANT and THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE, for even more of deadly, delightful Denmark . . .