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19 Reviews
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced, exciting. Worthwhile read, 30 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
Thriller which reminded me a bit of Ed McBain. The story was totally believable and illustrated the complexities of modern South Africa but still giving hope for the future. Easily identified with van Heerden as the 'bad' good buy. Had me hooked until I finished the last page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive, gripping and believable thriller!, 9 April 2001
This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
What a wonderful journey into Van Heerden's world and personality. Van Heerden's sensitivity and intelligence shine through in this book. Deon Meyer has written a truly gripping thriller which not only gives the reader an insight into Van Heerden's world, but also that of the police force in South Africa. The chapters alternate between the present, pacy action and an autobiography by Van Heerden. This is definitely a book worth buying.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What had driven him to take the wrong turnings to nowhere?", 27 Aug 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
Zapotek "Zet" van Heerden is beaten, bruised, and sleeping off a drinking binge in a South African jail when he is hired to work as a private detective for attorney Hope Beneke. Hope's client is the lover of Johannes Jacobus Smit, an antiques dealer who was tortured with a blowtorch before being shot and killed. His safe, reportedly containing two million dollars, has been emptied, and his will, purportedly leaving everything to his lover, has been stolen. If it cannot be found within a week, everything will go to the state.
Living on the edge and decidedly antisocial, Zet van Heerden is fighting numerous personal demons. Once honored as an intelligent and resourceful crime fighter, he feels responsible for the death of his mentor, Nagel, who was shot in front of him. Filled with rage which he does not even try to control, he now lashes out at the world and then escapes into an alcoholic stupor.
As van Heerden tries to unearth the will and information about Smit's past, he also investigates events from 1976, when Smit was in the army, and from 1983, when Smit accumulated an enormous amount of cash. During his research, Zet is haunted by two other cases--one from 1991, involving the murder and mutilation of a woman who lived behind him when he was a teenager, the event which led him to join the police force, and the recent tragedy involving Nagel's death, which led him to leave the force.
As van Heerden's family background, his past love life, and the events which have brought him to his present state unfold, the reader comes to appreciate how disturbed van Heerden really is and to feel sympathy for him. A wide variety of peripheral characters in various police organizations add to the depth of the novel and expand its scope, as van Heerden must deal with the Murder and Robbery division, a "friendly" gangster with a large security force, the Urban Anti-Terrorist Force, the military Defense Force, and the American consular office.
Meyer resists the temptation to turn this compelling psychological mystery and character study into a quasi-love story, involving the reader less through romance than through intriguing and alternating stories, time periods, and points of view. Details about South African life and the individual characters give immediacy and emotional intensity to the action, and Meyer's deliberate withholding of key information keeps the various mysteries fresh and exciting. The conclusion is satisfying on all levels, making this unusual and psychologically astute mystery far more intriguing than the typical police procedural. Mary Whipple
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5.0 out of 5 stars as well as the sheer joy of watching the detectives' lives unfold as years pass, 6 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
I *love* Deon Meyer. I only discovered him this year, and devoured everything he's written. He has an incredible gift for weaving characters' stories through multiple books. Someone who was only a minute character in one book may befriend another character three books later, or become the victim or perpetrator another two books after that. For this reason, as well as the sheer joy of watching the detectives' lives unfold as years pass, I recommend reading the books in the order they were written, NOT as Benny Greissel series etc. Benny shows up in other books, as a sort of aside sometimes, and it allows you to follow his development and understand why he does what he does. His boss is also featured in multiple books.

Also the insight into post-Apartheid life is illuminating. I enjoyed too the working of stories around events I followed from my home in Canada, such as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Go get his books. You will not regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A guilty pleasure, 15 April 2010
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
This is a fun, readable crime novel with an interesting protagonist. It's by no means high brow, and some of the storylines are somewhat cliched and ever so slightly saccharine, but it's well plotted and very easy to read. The parts of the plot touching on South Africa's past - namely the military action on the northern borders - were especially interesting to me as a non-South African. If you like crime novels, you'll definitely like this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars South African Noir, 17 Oct 2009
By 
N. Pemberton (Portsmouth UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Paperback)
Though I'm a crime fiction fan I had never come across a South African crime novel before I picked this book up in a charity shop & I'm very glad I did. Deon Meyer has woven a gripping and believable narrative around an extremely flawed protagonist, an ex-police detective with a skeleton or two in his closet. A rare taste of South African noir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read. I had never heard of this author ..., 9 July 2014
By 
K. M. Paton (Arezzo, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Kindle Edition)
What a great read. I had never heard of this author until I came across a review on another site. Wasn't at all sure I would like what seemed to be quite a masculine book, South African viewpoint...was it all going to be ex-commando types being tough in the new SA world order? I was being close-minded and was thrilled that I discovered Deon Meyer, more so in finding a rare treat of a "hero" in Van Heerden. I liked the way his back story unfurled in parallel to present day events...and what a story! My only disappointment is that this flawed but real character does not seem to appear in any future books as I for one would love to follow on from where Van Heerden finds himself at the end of this book. I have ordered the next in the series, although it doesn't feature him, because Deon Meyer can really tell a story and he has me hooked.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not up there with his best., 27 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Kindle Edition)
An early role for Tiny in this tense but somewhat rambling story. Excellent writing with convincing portrayal of the main characters. As a result, it's a satisfying read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 7 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Kindle Edition)
There is no such thing as a bad Deon Meyer novel. This one is brilliant, developing the character of Benny Griessel in and around where I grew up in Cape Town. Come on Mnr. Meyer - write a few more please.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, 26 July 2013
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This review is from: Dead at Daybreak (Kindle Edition)
Set in post apartheid South Africa, Zapotek van Heerden the main character is a mix of Harry Bosch and Philip Marlowe. A great read!
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Dead at Daybreak
Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer
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