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Vannet by Arnaldur Indriðason,
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1,132497,240 (3.84)72
Authors:Arnaldur Indriðason,
Other authors:Silje Beite Løken (Overs.), Ivar Nørve (Innl.)
Info:[Oslo] : Cappelen Damm, 2008
Collections:Read in 2010
Tags:fiction, crime, iceland

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The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indriðason (2004)

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English (36)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (2)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
In The Draining Lake, Arnaldur took what really happened to Lake Kleifarvatn and made it a springboard for a fascinating mystery. It's not just the searching for the identity of a skeleton discovered because the water level has fallen enough (the phone conversation between the discoverer and the person to whom she tries to report it made me chuckle). The action moves back and forth between the present-day investigation and East Germany in the early 1950s.

I was born in 1954, so I do remember the Cold War, but not, of course, that period. The East Germany chapters are from the viewpoint of an idealistic and naive Icelandic college student. He is a very committed Marxist socialist, one of several who have received funding to study abroad. Tomas is able to rationalize the problems with life under Soviet rule for a long time, but his eyes are eventually opened. Of course these flashbacks have something to do with the skeleton. I'm afraid my immediate reaction to the identity of the skeleton and the reason behind his death was very un-Christian: I thought it served him right.

Inspector Erlendur is obsessed with discovering the fate of a man who went missing in 1968. He may or may not have become the skeleton in the lake, but he left behind a fiancée who has never recovered from his disappearance. It doesn't help that the officer involved in the original investigation was/is lazy.

There are conversations between the inspector and his grown children. Erlendur learns that his daughter told his son the story about their uncle who went missing when he and their father were children. Erlendur wants to give up on helping his addicted daughter, but his son says she needs him. There's a development with the unhappily married woman with whom Erlendur has not been having an affair, but has been seeing often enough that his colleagues assume she's his lady.

Erlendur learns useful information from his mentor, whose years as a heavy smoker have caught up with him. The dying man still wants a cigarette. Erlendur won't give him one, but continues smoking himself. (No, his own nicotine addiction does not give the inspector any insight into his daughter's drug addiction. Pity.)

I recommend this book to lovers of good mysteries and social history. George Guidall's narration is engaging. ( )
  JalenV | Aug 11, 2015 |
Een lijk wordt gevonden op de zandbodem van een uitdrogend meer. Het is vastgeketend aan oude Russische afluisterapparatuur. Erlendur, de van nature nogal sombere IJslandse inspecteur, wordt op de zaak gezet en bijt er zich in vast met een ongekende hardnekkigheid. Zijn opzoekingswerk brengt hem naar de DDR van tijdens de Koude Oorlog. Heel boeiend en heel spannend. Een echt winterboek. ( )
  chrisgalle | Mar 5, 2015 |
Indridason continues to deliver solid, realistic, dark crime stories from Iceland. This is the fourth novel in the series with Inspector Erlendur.

A skeleton is found in a lake that is draining due to some seismic disruption. Also found together with the skeleton is an old soviet listening device. This will lead the investigators back to the cold war, espionage, surveillance and the communist party on Iceland.

Along with the investigation we are told a moving love story. A young Icelandic communist are send by the party to study in Leipzig during the cold war. Here his’ idealistic socialist world view is being tested as he discovers a whole society under surveillance and students spying on each other. And here he also meets the love of his life.

Slowly we will see the connection between the unfoldning investigation and the students in Leipzig.

From Erlendur’’s own life there’s a development with the woman he have been seeing for a while - and his two grown up children are giving him more worries.

The crime story is also a reflection of Erlendur’s own life - as a child his brother was lost in a snowstorm and never found. Erlendur is obsessed with missing persons and go to great length to discover the truth. ( )
2 vote ctpress | Jul 2, 2014 |

In the wake of an earthquake, the water level of an Icelandic lake drops suddenly, revealing the skeleton of a man half-buried in its sandy bed. It is clear immediately that it has been there for many years. There is a large hole in the skull. Yet more mysteriously, a heavy communication device is attached to it, possibly some sort of radio transmitter, bearing inscriptions in Russian.

The police are called in and Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli begin their investigation, which gradually leads them back to the time of the Cold War when bright, left-wing students would be sent from Iceland to study in the 'heavenly state' of Communist East Germany.

The Draining Lake is another remarkable Indridason mystery about passions and shattered dreams, the fate of the missing and the grief of those left behind.

One of the reading challenges I set for myself this year was to read at least one Scandinavian crime novel in each month. Last month was my first taste of Jo Nesbo, albeit with a novel set in Australia. This month was Arnaldur Indridason and his book, The Draining Lake. I reckon I have read one of the author's previous efforts, Jar City several long years ago. A lot of books have been read in the mean-time and as a consequence any memories or feelings for the novel have long since left me.

Effectively coming to this author fresh and with a novel based at least some of the time in an authentic Scandinavian setting, I was immediately captured by the story. Indridason weaves between a present day investigation into a recently discovered skeleton, and a more turbulent period in Eastern Europe's recent history with some students studying in Leipzig. The Icelandic students with their Socialist ideals get to enjoy the realities of life in a Communist country; one which probably infringed on its citizens liberties more than Mother Russia did. I've read of life in East Germany under Communism last year with Anna Funder's excellent Stasiland. Indridason captures the menace of the 60's in a country where individuals lived under a regime where suspicion and paranoia was the default position of the state. Icelandic idealism soon wearies in a society where trust is in short supply.

Traversing the narrative back and forth between 60's Leipzig and present day Iceland, Indridason knits a cohesive tale. The book was enjoyable and interesting, and populated with characters that were likeable and engaging. The three police officers in the team have lives outside the job and we are introduced to their families and ongoing sagas. Rather than acting as a distraction or sideshow to the main tale, the relationship between the three and their obvious regard and support for each other added to my enjoyment.

This is the 4th in the author's series of Reykjavik murder mysteries, with another 4 published after it. I'll definitely be back for more. I'm hoping the long forgotten Jar City still resides somewhere in my attic, as I wouldn't mind revisiting it again or to be honest any of the others.

In my somewhat slim Scandinavian crime league table, Indridason sits at the top ahead of Nesbo after one book each. Stieg Larsson is in third position with his namesake Asa and the double act of Sjowall/Wahloo and Henning Mankell still to join the fray.

5 from 5 - and a likely book of the month.

Bought my copy of the book from an Oxfam shop many moons ago. ( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
When detective Erlendur and his colleagues find another dead body at the bottom of a drained lake the traces lead back to the era of Cold War and the students of Leipzig, East Germany. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Jan 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Realistically told, emotionally charged, and brimming with compassion, The Draining Lake is likely to challenge the reader’s values system. For this reviewer, at least, Indridason’s latest English-translated novel is one of the highlights of 2007. Although it’s full of pathos, the book also makes clear just how strong the human spirit is, and reminds us that the flip-side of friendship is far from pleasant. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish comrade from foe -- a person can be both at the same time....I wait patiently for the next Arnaldur Indridason/Bernard Scudder collaboration to arrive in bookstores. This is crime fiction at its most insightful, poetic and poignant

Indridason's novels are an undiluted pleasure....this series places Indridason at the centre of the best of contemporary crime fiction. He is a master storyteller, and has a real gift for evoking the complex humanity at the heart of the most dour-seeming individuals.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arnaldur Indriðasonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Éric BouryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lembek, KimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rexford, JustinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scudder, BernardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Slaap maar, ik ben dol op je (uit een volksliedje)
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She stood motionless for a long time, staring at the bones as if it should not be possible for them to be there. Any more than for her.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312428588, Paperback)

Inspector Erlendur returns in this international Bestseller

Following an earthquake, the water level of an Icelandic lake suddenly falls, revealing a skeleton. Inspector Erlendur's investigation takes him back to the Cold War era, when bright, left-wing students in Iceland were sent to study in the "heavenly state" of Communist East Germany. Teeming with spies and informants, though, their "heavenly state" becomes a nightmare of betrayal and murder. Brilliantly weaving international espionage and a chilling cold case investigation, The Draining Lake is Arnaldur Indridason at his best.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:52 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Following an earthquake, the water level of an Icelandic lake suddenly falls, revealing a skeleton. Inspector Erlendur's investigation takes him back to the cold war era, when bright, left-wing students in Iceland were sent to study in the "heavenly state" of Communist East Germany. Teeming with spies and informants, though, their "heavenly state" becomes a nightmare of betrayal and murder. Brilliantly weaving international espionage and a chilling cold-case investigation, The Draining Lake is Arnaldur Indri?ason at his best.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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