Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer: 4****

Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer

A different sort of book from South African author Deon Meyer. It is different in that it is the story of Zet Van Heerden, a former South African police office who quits the force due to emotional issues and works as a down and out private detective. The action begins on Page 1, as he is jail after a drunken night ended in a brutal beating he took from 4 men in a bar. Nonetheless, an attorney gets him released and takes him to the office of a female attorney who has a problematic case that must be solved in 7 days. The book is divided into sections relating to each day prior to what is called D-Day as well as the events on that day.
The case is fascinating, although Zet wallows in self-pity for about half of the time. A man was found tied to a chair. He was tortured by a blowtorch and then killed with a US automatic weapon. Not only that, his walk-in vault was opened and everything in there was removed, including a Will that left the property to his live-in girlfriend of 14 years who knows little or nothing about the case.
Interspersed with the action of this case are alternating chapters revealing the backstory of Zet Van Heerden. From childhood, to his parents, to why he became a policeman, to his rise and fall in the force. It is quite a ride that Meyer takes us on and, as always, he fills the book with wonderful characters and details. By the end of the book we understand Zet, the motives behind the crime, as we follow a trail of blood, guts, murder, as well as a 25-year old secret. If politics makes strange bedfellows then so does Zet Van Heerden as he uses all possible resources to catch a killer!

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