They share a house.
And all its secrets . . .
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. They very quickly establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her complex landlady, Esther de Laurenti. 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 more urgent.
But is Esther guilty or merely another victim in a far more dangerous game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women's pasts to discover the secret that links them both.
For landlady and retired Copenhagen academic Esther de Laurenti, the protagonist of Danish choreographer Engberg's fast-moving first novel and series launch, the murder of her 21-year-old tenant, student Julie Stender, strikes alarmingly close to home. Not only was Julie attacked just two floors below Esther's flat, but key details of the crime, including intricate carvings on the victim's face inflicted while she was still alive, are sickeningly familiar to her because they're lifted from the manuscript on which aspiring mystery writer Esther is working. The sometimes uneasy juxtaposition of realistic characters like feisty Esther and the perennially bickering detective duo assigned to the case with the unabashedly artificial think a subsequent victim discovered mid-ballet in a theater chandelier runs throughout. The undertow from the overly ambitious plot drowns any sense of plausibility, but Engberg's sparkling cast and palpable evocation of a society U.S. readers will find similar yet foreign keep the pages turning pleasurably.