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by Katrine Engberg and Tara Chace, trans.
Gallery/Scout Press, February 2023
336 pages
ISBN: 1668002272

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In THE SANCTUARY, acclaimed Danish author Katrine Engberg presents us with an unusual police procedural mystery. Not only are the authorities looking for a murderer, someone who sawed a man in two, but they are also trying to identify the murder victim. At first only half of a corpse is discovered, hidden in a suitcase in a public park. The victim has been sliced vertically from bottom to top. Who is this mutilated person? Forensic analysis cannot provide a match, so the police begin to search missing person files.

This novel is the fifth and last in a series featuring police officers Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner. Kørner is on leave from the force, nursing a broken heart and hoping to lead a quiet life on Bornholm, a rural island. He works cutting down trees and helping at the sawmill.

We also meet Esther de Laurenti, visiting the island to research the life of Margrethe Dybris, an anthropologist with a mysterious past. Esther is staying in the dead woman's home, now in the possession of the woman's children. The daughter, Ida, is a gracious host, but she does not meet the son, Niolaj. No one knows where he is, although Ida does not appear concerned as he often goes off without telling her. But is he now a missing person?

Back in Copenhagen, Werner is in charge of the murder investigation. Clues, including missing persons and the origin of the suitcase, reveal a strong connection to Bornholm. Though not officially on duty, her colleague Kørner joins in the investigation, at first reluctantly. But when his own life is threatened, he realizes he is already involved and coming close to the perpetrators. Slowly, the intricate relationships and past events of the island's residents are revealed. Yet each revelation takes us in a different direction, as the author brilliantly devises probable scenarios for the reader. Who is alive? Who is dead? How are people really related to each other? What event in the past has influenced the present murder mystery? THE SANCTUARY is a book that will keep you guessing until the very end.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, January 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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