“The Butterfly House” by Katrine Engberg – Book Review

“Lies tend to settle over the heart like plastic wrap.
They make it hard for the love to breathe.”


The fountains of Copenhagen are holding more than just water. Dead bodies are being dumped in fountains throughout the city. The first body, that of a middle-aged, female health-care worker, was found early one morning in the fountain of a car-free shopping area called Strøget.

Jeppe Kørner is tasked with the murder investigation. Though he is loathe to admit it, he is missing his partner Anette Werner, who is off work on maternity leave. He is enduring the slow driving and annoying persona of Torben Falck in the meantime…

Jeppe is under pressure from his superiors when more bodies are found – all killed with an antique medical device called a ‘scarificator’.  Also, all the bodies have some link to ‘The Butterfly House’, which was a residential care facility for mentally ill teenagers.


Esther de Laurenti, one of the characters from “The Tenant” returns in this second installment in the series in a minor role.

bridge in Ørstedsparken park near where Anette walked her crying baby.

Also, we learn much more about Anette Werner, who is finding new motherhood challenging to say the least.

“Love could be a burden as much as a gift, especially when it was expected and demanded.”

Jeppe Kørner, in his forties, is newly divorced from a wife that he loved very much. They separated because his wife wanted children and Jeppe couldn’t provide them. Now, while waiting to move into his new apartment, he is living with his mother. This arrangement is not going well for either of them. Jeppe is now in  a relationship with Sara Saidani, a work colleague and one of the members of his team. He is stressed out with the current case and is suffering from insomnia. Also, he repeatedly gets ‘ear worms‘ which mess with his ability to concentrate.

Anette Werner has been happily married for twenty years, is a ‘comfort eater’, adores animals, and is not known for her tact. Jeppe thinks she is highly annoying and temperamental. She thinks Jeppe is arrogant. In this novel, Anette is a new mother of a three month old baby girl. Motherhood at this stage in her life is very hard for Anette to get used to. She is bored senseless at home and wishes she were still an active part of the murder team. She works on the case ‘unofficially’ which places her in grave danger.

Others on the police team include:

Thomas Larsen – the youngest of the detectives and shamelessly ambitious which gets on Jeppe’s nerves. Jeppe has been cautioned by his superiors that if he doesn’t make quick headway with this case, Larsen will be given the commanding lead.

Sara Saidani – of Tunisian decent, quiet, industrious, and serious, she is the single mother of two young girls. Sara’s strength is her coding expertise and her superior knowledge of online investigations. She is currently sharing her bed with Jeppe Kørner.

Torben Falck – the oldest of the detectives on the team who is fond of his impressive graying mustache, wears colourful suspenders, and prides himself on making bad puns. Despite his eccentricities, Falck is dependable and a thorough and talented investigator. This time out, he proves himself to be invaluable.

I really enjoyed this author’s “The Tenant” which I read last year. However, this novel is even better. With rich characterization, a beguiling story-line, and a stunning setting, this crime thriller/police procedural was a fine start to this year’s reading.

It spoke to many of societies problems without being preachy about it. Mainly it highlighted how mentally ill youth are treated. Medical ethics was also a theme that ran through the story.

This police procedural gave as much weight to the personal back-stories of the main, recurring characters as it did to the crime featured in the book. This is something that I really appreciate in a crime novel.

Fast-paced, and with a compelling plot, this Danish crime thriller will be sure to be enjoyed by many readers of the genre. Highly recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Scout Press/Simon and Schuster Canada via Edelweiss.

Although this novel was translated from the Danish language to English, I could find no information on the identity of the translator.

ISBN: 9781982127602 –  ASIN: B08BZWCJLT –  352 pages

Katrine Engberg (b. 1975) had already attained the status of acclaimed dancer and choreographer when she began writing. Honing her voice and authorship while simultaneously continuing to contribute to the Arts, both as a director and a choreographer, Engberg soon emerged as a virtuoso of sensitive portrayals and ingeniously intertwined plot threads. Written in 2016, The Tenant is Engberg’s crime fiction debut and the first book in the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Copenhagen series, hailed for its refreshing style and lovable characters. Four books have been written in the series to date.

Follow Katrine Engberg on Twitter or on Instagram.


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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11 Responses to “The Butterfly House” by Katrine Engberg – Book Review

  1. Rosemary Mazurek says:

    I just found fictionophile and I really like it. Love the photos giving me a visual of things mentioned in the book. I live the list of some characters with brief descriptions. I do like Engberg and that is how u found you. I am very pleased!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Spell the Month in Books – NOVEMBER #SpellTheMonthInBooks #BookRecommendations | Fictionophile

  3. Pingback: #BookRecommendations with titles that start with the letter ‘B’ #booklovers #bookbloggers #GreatReads | Fictionophile

  4. Carla says:

    Wonderful review Lynne. Do you have to read The Tennant first? I was just looking at the audiobook of this one and trying to decide if I should request it or not, I may go ahead and do it now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pink Roses says:

    I’m going to read the first one in this series. Thanks for a great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fab review Lynne sounds like a good read!


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