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THE DRAINING LAKE by Arnaldur Indridason


by Arnaldur Indridason & translated by Bernard Scudder

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-35873-0
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

A body found in a cold lake has roots in the Cold War.

Sunna, a scientist with Iceland’s Energy Authority, discovers a skeleton while taking an early morning walk around Lake Kleifarvatn, which has been recently drained. Inspector Erlendur is called in to investigate, along with sidekicks Elínborg and Sigurdur Óli. Though a hole in the skeleton’s skull clearly indicates foul play, identifying the remains proves trickier than expected. Meticulous research narrows the field of possible victims, but also reveals a striking anomaly: a cluster of young Icelandic men, perhaps involved in espionage, who left the country without a trace 30 years ago. An old Ford Falcon ultimately leads the team to the victim’s name. Threaded through the contemporary investigation is the story of an initially anonymous protagonist who journeys to East Germany for training and falls hard for Ilona, a Hungarian operative. Her unexplained disappearance sets him onto a dangerous path. Back in the present, Erlendur struggles to find time for an affair with crime-scene tech Valgerdur, whom he met on his last case (Voices, 2007), when he achieved a new closeness with Eva Lind, his drug-addicted daughter. Eva’s relapse drives a new wedge between them. Meanwhile, restless retired chief Marion, now yoked to an oxygen mask because of a lifelong smoking habit, keeps checking in to see if she can help.

Beleaguered, dutiful Erlendur remains a compelling Everyman, and Indridason writes with clarity, precision and elegance.