Blurb: When the shotgun-blasted body of a goose hunter is discovered, the police believe they have a list of suspects who may have wanted the victim dead, from his young wife to the caretaker of his property. But then a second body, another hunter, is found with a similar fatal wound. And then a third. As the pattern emerges—all goose hunters, all shot at the break of dawn—Reykjavik policemen Gunnar and Birkir face the terrifying possibility that a serial killer is stalking the idyllic Icelandic countryside.
Gunnar and Birkir set a trap for the one they call “the Gander,” but it quickly becomes a wild goose chase as the murderer plays some tricks of his own. With the clock running out and the discovery of another body all but guaranteed, the cops must determine if there is a thread connecting the victims or if the killings are all part of a twisted game.
Daybreak is a competently written, plot-driven crime novel that has been well translated from the Icelandic. While I enjoyed reading it, I can’t say it will stay with me or that I would read additional books if it were to become a series. There was a generic feel to the novel, as though it could have been set almost anywhere—it didn’t have a strong sense of place or character.
The detectives assigned to the case, Gunnar and Birkir, are both outsiders themselves; Gunnar is of German heritage, Birkir Vietnamese. The author did a good job of conveying the distance they felt from Icelandic society, but unfortunately in doing so he also created too much distance between the reader and the characters. They both had the potential to be interesting, yet because of the lack of development, both struck me as stereotypes: the overweight, sloppy detective and the silent, inscrutable one. I had hoped the author would use the setting to greater advantage, since Iceland is such a remote, bleak landscape, but with its focus on plot, there’s not a lot of description.
Some of the elements that I most enjoy about Nordic crime fiction were missing from this book—strong sense of setting, a greater social awareness—but that’s not necessarily a criticism. This was a solid, compelling mystery novel, perfect for a beach read or on the airplane, when you want a fast-paced, quick read.
This ARC was furnished by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3 stars