Part mystery, part travelogue, Daybreak is a book you can't put down. Or at least I couldn't. Mysteries can be a little cliched, the characters straight out of central casting,with cookiecutter plots. Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson gives us something different and something delightful.
First of all, it takes place in Iceland. A mystery that takes you away from the familiar and provids a glimpse into another world is always fun, and Iceland is better than New Jersey any day. And the characters? How's this for off the hook...we have a detective named Bikir Hinrikson who is Vietnamese by birth and seriously antisocial by preference. His partner, Gunnar Mariuson, is a fat and happy semi-alcoholic. He is more familiar than Bikir, but the author's skill keeps him from becoming a stereotype. Giving a character a new slant is always good, and Ingolfsson dooes it just right. Not to freaky, not to familiar. Making the lead character a Southeast Asian trying to fit in among a race of blonde giants is a very interesting and unexpected tweak. Hinrikson and Mariuson are multi-faced and the writer lets them act out of character occasionaly. Nice touch.
Not only are the characters well drawn, but we also have that subplot. Bikir is Asian on the outside, but having arrived in Iceland as an infant, he's Norski on the inside. It makes for some interesting conflicts and confrontations.
Mariuson and Hinrikson are part of Reykjavik's Violent Crime Unit. Someone is slaughtering goosehunters and the detectives are given the task of finding and stopping him. The police procedural details as practiced in Iceland are interesting. We get a little glimpse into a place that most of us know little about, and we encounter to compelling characters - cops, criminals and ordinary citizens who, while similar to our homegrown variety, are just different enough to be tantalizing.
I hope Mr. Ingolfsson gives us more Mariuson and Henrikson soon..