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The Harbor

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About The Book

“Reading Engberg feels like reading early Jo Nesbo, getting in on the ground of a major crime-writing career.” —The New York Times Book Review

This third novel in the “thrilling, nerve-wracking” (Shelf Awareness) Korner and Werner series follows the two detectives as they search for a missing teenager and uncover the web of lies that has threatened his life—and may prevent him from ever being found.

When fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff disappears in this “masterpiece of Nordic noir” (Booklist, starred review), the police assume he’s simply a runaway—a typically overlooked middle child doing what teenagers do all around the world. But his frantic family is certain that something terrible has happened. After all, what runaway would leave behind a note that reads:

He looked around and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free.

It’s not much to go on, but it’s all that detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner have. And with every passing hour, as the odds of finding a missing person grow dimmer, it will have to be enough.

Excerpt

Prologue PROLOGUE
After spending his weekend in bed, Michael woke up Monday morning with a throat full of glass shards. He had just pulled the comforter up around his fever-laden head and decided to call in sick, when his wife came in to stand at the foot of the bed, crossing her arms and giving him that look. Michael got up. After all, she was right. His job as crane operator at the incineration plant was still new, and he couldn’t risk making a bad first impression.

Pumped up on a mixture of Tylenol and black coffee, he drove out to Copenhagen’s industrial island, Refshaleøen, the car radio alternating between soft hits and crisp commercials, and gradually he started to feel better. He parked the car, nodded to the guards in the lobby, and rode the elevator up to the staff room to change his clothes. Strictly speaking that wasn’t necessary, because the negative pressure in the sealed waste silo left the surrounding facility nearly odor-free, but Michael always changed into his boiler suit anyway. He laced up his protective work boots, put on his helmet, and walked through the plant with knees aching from the flu.

The walkways around the silo made up their own world of steel and valves, control panels, boilers, and signs. There were no windows, the incineration plant comprising a closed system that lacked weather or any circadian rhythm. Michael casually ducked under the hot-water pipes, said hello to a couple of coworkers by the steam turbines, and let himself into the crane operator’s room. He stuck his lunch in the refrigerator and made a pot of coffee before sinking into his work chair with a heartfelt sigh. A ferocious scene came into view in front of him, one that he still had not fully gotten used to.

A window—the only one in the entire waste silo—offered a view into the heart of the incineration plant: the underbelly of Western civilization, a massive aggregated heap of filthy futility. Michael hadn’t worked with garbage before, and on his first few shifts he had felt sick to his stomach, as if he were witnessing the apocalypse and ought to be doing something instead of just watching it. It had gotten better over time. He had even started eating the cookies his coworkers left behind while moving the claw.

The claw! At eight meters across from leg to leg it resembled something from a dystopian world where giant spiders ruled a dead planet. Michael had brought many pictures of the claw home to his six-year-old son, who firmly believed his dad had the coolest job in the world.

In reality, his dad’s job was a little boring. The system that controlled the claw—moving it from the chutes where the waste carts were emptied and over to the ovens—was automated. Michael was only there to observe the transfer of the waste from left to right ad infinitum and make sure that nothing went wrong.

“Good morning,” said Kasper Skytte as he walked in and sat in the chair next to Michael.

Occasionally the process engineers came to check if there was trouble in the control system. Michael hadn’t noticed anything.

“Any problems so far?”

“Nope.”

Luckily the engineers rarely spoke to the crane operators or anyone, really, who didn’t understand their technobabble. So Michael knew he would be able to work in peace, which was just as well. He felt feverish and hot and perhaps should have defied his wife and stayed in bed after all.

“Coffee?” Kasper asked.

“Thanks, I’m good.”

The engineer got up and clanked around with cups and spoons behind him, then yawned loudly and sank back into the chair beside Michael so they were once more seated side by side, watching the silo. Michael pulled his bag closer and dug around in it for something to relieve his sore throat, hoping he still had a couple of lozenges left. He found a pack of Ricola drops and gratefully popped one into his mouth.

The claw approached the window with a full load. It was always an impressive sight when it swung by really close. Trash dangled from its enormous grabbing arms, like tentacles on a jellyfish: a rope, a dirty tarp, a sneaker.

Michael leaned closer to the glass, squinting. That shoe was attached to something. Just as the load passed right in front of the window, an arm emerged, flopping out of the trash and dangling limply from the claw. Next to him Kasper spat his coffee at the window.

Then Michael slammed the dead-man button.

About The Author

Photograph by Les Kaner

A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg launched a groundbreaking career as a novelist with the publication of her fiction debut, The Tenant. She is now one of the most widely read and beloved crime authors in Denmark, and her work has been sold in over twenty-five countries. She lives with her family in Copenhagen.

Why We Love It

“Katrine Engberg gets better with every book. In The Harbor, her latest novel for Scout, she brings back the two unforgettable detectives she introduced in The Tenant, as they race against the clock to try to find a missing teenager before it's too late—and seek justice for the exploited and vulnerable among us.”

—Alison C., VP, Executive Editor, on The Harbor

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (February 22, 2022)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982127633

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Raves and Reviews

“One of the best armchair travelogues in ages... It is the absolute humanity of the storytelling that makes the book a masterpiece of Nordic noir.”Booklist (starred review)

“[E]ngrossing . . . The plot takes some unexpected turns as the detectives unearth some shocking secrets . . . en route to the satisfying conclusion. Readers will eagerly await Jeppe and Anette’s next case.” Publishers Weekly 

 

“Perfectly balances a mysterious disappearance with the no less intriguing domestic concerns of its two investigators . . . Engberg is a must-read for fans of Nordic noir.” —BookPage (starred review)

The Harbor continues the terrific Kørner And Werner series with both a chilling tale of crime, and a sensitive exploration of troubled souls under immense pressure to hide their weaknesses . . . Engberg knows how to depict deeply flawed yet still eminently human and relatable characters, even as she brings us on a non-stop thrill ride through Copenhagen’s seamy underbelly. . . This series perfectly balances Scandi-noir crime with heartfelt family drama.” Criminal Element

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More books from this author: Katrine Engberg