cover image Dead at Daybreak

Dead at Daybreak

Deon Meyer, . . Little, Brown, $23.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-316-00012-3

South African crime writer Meyer's expertly crafted second thriller (after 2004's Heart of the Hunter ) confirms his place as one of the genre's finest new stylists. Afrikaner Zatopek "Zet" van Heerden, a former cop, is slipping fast into drunken dissolution when a colleague pulls him up and gives him an opportunity. An attorney, Hope Beneke, needs a private investigator fast to find a missing will. An antiques dealer, Johannes Jacobus Smit, was recently found burnt with a blowtorch and shot execution-style, the contents of his walk-in safe, including his will, gone. Beneke and van Heerden have only seven days to find the document before Smit's considerable assets revert to the state, leaving his common-law wife destitute. It doesn't take long for van Heerden to discover that "Smit" wasn't the person whose papers he carried, and that someone very important, quite possibly the state itself, wants to hide his true identity. 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. Agent, Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann . (Aug.)