Summary and book reviews of Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer

Dead at Daybreak

by Deon Meyer

Dead at Daybreak
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2005, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 496 pages

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Book Summary

Deon Meyer recreates the beauty, wildness, and danger of modern Africa with an immediacy and force no other writer has achieved.

An antiques dealer in Cape Town is found dead, killed execution-style with a single shot to the back of the head. The contents of his safe are missing, suggesting robbery, but the weapon used in the killing is an M16-a gun that's generally the choice of mercenaries, not burglars.

Zed van Heerden is a former police office with connections to the world of soldiers and mercenary fighters from South Africa's battles for independence. And when he's called in to find out more about the victim, he quickly learns that this man in his fifties has no traces of a life earlier than 1983. Who was Johannes Jacobus Smit, and how did he invent a new life for himself out of nothing? What are the secrets that might have gotten him killed?

Van Heerden's probe stirs a fast and violent response, and before he has any idea what he's involved in, there's a seven-day countdown for his own survival. He has stumbled into the minefield of Africa's secret forces, a world where true loyalties are buried deep and treachery and violence are the only certainties. He must trust the instincts developed in his own frightening past to help him learn the truth-and use that truth to save his own life.

Deon Meyer recreates the beauty, wildness, and danger of modern Africa with an immediacy and force no other writer has achieved. Winner of Le Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere 2003, his work is undeniably "a cause for celebration" (Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph).

I

He awoke abruptly out of an alcohol-sodden sleep, the pain in his ribs his first conscious sensation. Then the swollen eye and upper lip, the antiseptic, musty smell of the cell, the sour odor of his body, the salty taste of blood and old beer in his mouth. And the relief.

Jigsaw pieces of the previous evening floated into his mind. The provocation, the annoyed faces, the anger - such normal, predictable motherfuckers, such decent, conventional pillars of the community.

He remained motionless, on the side that wasn't painful, the hangover throbbing like a disease through his body.

Footsteps in the corridor outside, a key turning in the lock of the gray steel door, the grating of metal slicing through his head. Then the uniform stood there.

"Your attorney's here," the policeman said. Slowly he turned on the bed. Opened one eye. "Come.&...

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Reviews

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

....after a sizzling debut, Meyer's second disappoints.....A step back then, but enough flashes of real talent to hope for better from his next.

Publishers Weekly

Meyer keeps the suspense moving throughout the third-person narrative, alternating back and forth with van Heerden's own first-person account of his past. This is a remarkable achievement from a singular new talent.

Library Journal

A breathtaking pace, heart-pounding action set against a psychological backdrop, and a fascinating protagonist make this book a winner. Highly recommended...

Booklist - Frank Sennett

Starred Review. The author once again mines South Africa's fertile history of racial conflict and cold war gamesmanship for a narrative gem.

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Beyond the Book

Deon Meyer was born in the South African town of Paarl in the wine region of the Western Cape in 1958, and grew up in Klerksdorp, in the gold mining region of Northwest Provence. After military duty and studying at the Potchefstroom University, he joined Die Volksblad, a daily newspaper in Bloemfontein as a reporter. Since those heady days, he has worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, web manager, Internet strategist, and brand consultant.

In 1994 he published his first Afrikaans novel, which has not been translated.  All later novels have been translated into several languages, including English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Bulgarian.  He lives in Melkbosstrand...

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