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Stephanie De Pue
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"Daybreak" is the fourth novel and the third Scandinavian mystery/police procedural by the Icelandic author Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson. The crime novel was the basis for the 2008 Icelandic television series HUNTING MEN. It follows on the heels of the author's House of Evidence, which won the Glass Key Award, given by the Crime Writers Association of Scandinavia. (I read and favorably reviewed this novel on its own webpage.) Then there was The Flatey Enigma, which was nominated for the same award. (Mind you, I am not at all sure that Iceland is considered part of Scandinavia, but the country's language is Old Nordic, and the Scandinavian literary critics seem to consider it so.) At any rate, this new crime novel has now been translated from the Icelandic into English by Bjorg Arnadottir and Andrew Cauthery. The work, like its author, is largely located in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, that little-known to outsiders, sparsely populated, extreme northern country.
The shotgun-blasted body of a wealthy goose hunter has been discovered on his farm in the remote countryside: it appears he was shot at daybreak. The police believe they have a list of the usual suspects who may have wanted the victim dead, from his young wife to the hostile caretaker, the former owner of this property. Then second and third bodies are found, both also goose hunters, with similar fatal wounds, shot at the break of dawn. Reykjavik policemen Gunnar and Birkir believe that a serial killer they call "the Gander" has taken to stalking the wild Icelandic countryside.
Ingolfsson is a more than capable writer, nothing wrong with his narrative and descriptive writing or his dialog. I liked the characters he gives us at the Reykjavik police station, and those he established for his two police protagonists, Birkir, a Vietnamese immigrant as a child; and the fat and flatulent local lad Gunnar. And I was interested in the writer's descriptions of the geography, weather, flora, fauna, language and social byways of his country, about which I know virtually nothing. I particularly liked the off-handed, yet detailed way he introduced his settings, volcanic, icy, and so unfamiliar to most readers. The plot kept my attention, though it was rather linear. Yet, I did find both the plot and the characterization of the perpetrator too clever by half. Nevertheless, the author did find his way to a surprising, somewhat grisly conclusion, which surely justifies the book's inclusion in the Scandinavian mystery category. Which, from my readings in that category, from The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, to that international publishing phenomenon, Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy Series Set: (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) (The Girl Who Played with Fire) (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) (Millennium Trilogy), do run to the grisly. DAYBREAK is a welcome addition, by a talented newcomer who might go far, to the category of Scandinavian mysteries. The Norwegian Jo Nesbo, The Redeemer (Harry Hole), must be considered the frontrunner, but this local lad's a contender for the title of king of the Scandinavian mystery, vacated by the untimely death of Stieg Larsson.