This is the book I chose for the ‘body of water’ category of the whimsical reading challenge.
When I first started reading The Draining Lake (by Arnaldur Indridason) I didn’t like it. I couldn’t pronounce any of the character names or any of the place names so whenever I came across one it was a stumbling block, also they sounded like something from Lord of the Rings. I also got the impression that each character had acres of back story that didn’t feature in this novel (I later found out that this book is sixth in a series, so that would be why!). I struggled along for about a quarter of the way through but then suddenly I was gripped! I couldn’t wait for the end of each day, so I could hop on the bus and crack out my Kindle.
If I had to summarise my favourite aspects of The Draining Lake I’d say, firstly, the dysfunctional characters; the hero is a detective called Erlendur, who seems to be an Icelandic version of Sherlock Holmes, but with more pronounced family issues. And secondly, the subtly constructed mystery; in this novel Indridason has created a plot with numerous possible endings so the reader never knows quite how things are going to turn out. I can never decide if I prefer guessing the ending of a book and being right OR being wowed by how things turn out.
The novel is split between three points of view, Erlendur (the lead detective), Thomas (an Icelandic national studying in Leipzig during the Cold War) and an anonymous (until the end) communist. Each narrative perspective performs a specific function; Erlendur creates the pace, Thomas provides another layer to the story and slows down the narrative, prolonging the reader’s journey towards the climax, and then the anonymous communist helps to develop the suspense.
One thing I did notice is that the author writes very much for the Icelandic reader. He assumes that his audience has a much deeper understanding of Iceland’s culture and reputation than I do, but I can’t really blame him for that. I think I could point Iceland out on a map and I know Bjork is from there, but that’s about it.
I would definitely recommend this book to a fellow crime novel enthusiast; it’s very different from the crime novels I usually come across, and who doesn’t love a bit of variety?
What have you guys been reading recently? I’m always looking for recommendations!