Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Draining Lake; Arnaldur Indridason

I love a good mystery, especially ones where I think I've turned into Miss Marple and figured it all out but then I'm properly pushed back down into my place. Mr. Indridason has written one of those books. I'm new to his work, but his name has buzzed around for a while and I was lucky enough to come across this one in the library. Americans are finally getting better access to books in translation (even genre!) which makes me very happy. There are lots of great stories out in the wide wide world and monolingual people like me miss lots of them unless the God of Publishing takes mercy on me and translates one.

Sunna, an hydrologist, discovers a partially submerged skeleton in a lake whose water is draining (the eponymous lake of the title). She calls the authorities & thus our whodunit begins. A trio of police inspectors: Erlendur, Elinborg and Oli are assigned to the case. Iceland being a small place, it's initially assumed that there will be little trouble figuring out who this guy is and how he was submerged in the lake with out of date Russian radio equipment tied to his legs. How long are the tentacles of the past?

Our intial story is wrapped around with one of an idealistic young man whose political leanings win him a scholarship to university in Leipzig East Germany. Eventually he learns that all is not what it seems. The ideals that burned so bright in Iceland became altogether another beast in the East Germany of the late 1960's and early 1970's. After a while I thought I'd figured out the who what where and when- but as I said above, I was wrong. I love the way Mr Indridason weaves together the present and the past, showing us that sometimes the past is closer than one might wish.

The Draining Lake is a wonderful mystery with strong overtones of John LeCarre's masterful cold war era spy novels. It took me a little while to wrap my mind around some of the unusual (to me anyway!) names, but that didn't deter me in the least. This is the American published edition, put out by MacMillan in September 2008. It is the fourth book in the series, the others being: Jar City, Voices and Silence of the Grave.

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