This is the first book in Viktor Arnar’s series of novels about odd couple detectives Birkir Li Hinriksson and Gunnar Maríuson. Both are to some extent outsiders in Icelandic society – Birkir being the son of Vietnamese refugees who settled in Iceland and Gunnar being half German.
Despite their differences, the meticulous and trim Birkir, with an interest in poetry and running, and the big and boisterous Gunnar, with a taste for food and drink and the finer things in life, make a formidable team. When the shotgun-blasted body of a goose hunter is discovered in the idyllic Dalasýsla district, they are sent from Reykjavík to assist with the investigation. Murders are few and far between in Iceland, so it comes as a shock when more bodies start turning up. Soon, the detectives realize that they may be dealing with Iceland’s first serial killer. Strangely enough, their killer only chooses goose hunters as his victims, stalking his prey while they themselves are on the hunt.
As with Viktor Arnar’s other novels, Daybreak’s pacing may take some getting used to for readers more versed in fast-paced western thrillers. In fact, it has more in common with British police procedurals; advancing the plot at an even rate and relying more on character creation and vividly rendered surroundings than frenzied action. The novel was adapted into a television miniseries in 2008.