Title: The Tenant
Author: Katrine Engberg
Published: Jan 14th, 2020
Source: e-ARC (Netgalley)
One Sentence Synopsis
A detective duo must investigate a murder that is following the plot of a unpublished murder mystery being written by the victim’s landlord.
This quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the final version
“It is no coincidence that the heart has become the symbol of love, because when someone loves and loses, grief sits in the chest, just to the left.”
Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for sending me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
You know how everyone has their own, individual reading tastes? How some people love enemies-to-lovers while others despise it? Well, I have an admission to make.
I’m 37 years old and I have no firm grasp on my reading preferences. I mean, I know that I tend to prefer fantasy to contemporary, but, beyond that, I’m honestly still learning my tastes. In a way, this is a good thing because it causes me to pick up books without a previous bias. But then there’s always the possibility that I’ll read something that just doesn’t jive with me because it’s not to my tastes.
I think that’s what happened with The Tenant. It’s a murder mystery, it has detectives and focuses heavily on the process of solving a crime, and I have found that books like that are just… not my thing. This just happened to be the book that fully cemented this fact in my mind. I will say, however, that I don’t think that this was the sole reason that this book didn’t work for me.
The Tenant follows two detectives, Jeppe and Anette, who are assigned to investigate the murder of a young woman at an apartment complex in Copenhagen. During the course of the investigation, they discover that murder mirrors a scene in an unpublished novel that the young woman’s landlord, Esther, is writing. As the investigation unfolds, the twists and turns just get weirder and more melodramatic.
And therein lay one of my issues with this book. It was just so over-the-top at times! And the characters were weirdly self-aware of the drama, too. At one point, one of the characters literally says “Tell me, are we in the middle of some f*cking crime novel, or what?” and I just… cringed. I understand that some drama is necessary or else why would anyone read it? It was just a bit much and it felt like things were piling up without anything being resolved.
My other issue with this book was the fact that the “who” part of “whodunit” was completely obvious as soon as the character was introduced. I’ve guessed the ending of mystery novels before and still managed to enjoy the journey, but that was not the case with this one. The character is introduced, I thought “Welp, it was definitely this person”, and then I spent the rest of the book wishing it would get to the point. I was just so bored and it didn’t help that every. single. character. was completely dull. They were like caricatures of your typical, street-wise detective who is down-on-their-luck. Especially Jeppe. Uggggh, Jeppe! There were several instances where I wrote in my notebook “Get your sh*t together, Jeppe!” and, honestly, he never does.
My last issue with this book was some of the writing. It was just… odd. For instance, our hot-mess detective, Jeppe, has to interview a woman that he finds attractive and, I quote, he “feels a ripple in his scrotum”.
There’s more instances of this and it completely took me out of the story. Mostly because I had to put my iPad down, find my husband, and tell him about whatever silly line I had just read. There are also a lot of instances of slightly misogynistic writing. For example, Jeppe is texting the woman that made his scrotum ripple and makes the observation that she doesn’t use “emoticons or hard to decode statements” and goes on to observe how “amazingly unwomanlike” he finds it. I mean, perhaps the author is just trying to write an unlikable protagonist, but I did not care for it.
The longer I write this, the more I feel like bumping my rating down…
However, I will say that I did enjoy the plot of the story. Though I didn’t care for the entire execution, there were genuinely good bits of this book that hooked me into the story. Unfortunately, I had to read through all that other stuff to get to them. Still… it was compelling at times and I was surprised by one aspect of the ending. So… there’s that, I guess?
Final thoughts: Though the concept was super interesting, the execution was pretty boring. The characters were flat and the writing was just weird at points. There were good bits near the end, but this definitely cemented the fact that detective novels just aren’t for me.