The Draining Lake (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
The Draining Lake is many different books in one: a murder mystery, a crime novel, an espionage novel, a missing-persons novel, a psychological novel about loneliness, a mythic novel, and a character study of its central figure, Erlendur Sveinsson. Arnaldur Indriðason skillfully interweaves these elements into a complex and fascinating novel. Events and characters on one story path lead the reader into another and then back to the central story, which is the murder mystery. Arnaldur (the first name is used according to Icelandic custom) succeeds in juxtaposing the intrigue of the various story threads in such a way that they remain separate and could stand alone as a self-sustaining story.
The structure of the novel is given texture by the use of repeated images and situations in the various stories. Tomás, the Leipzig student, observes a couple who walk hand in hand every evening; at the end of the novel, Sunna and her new companion walk off hand in hand. Tomás lives in the memories of Ilona; Leopold’s girlfriend lives in the memories of her life with him; and Erlendur’s thoughts constantly return to his brother, who has died tragically.
The setting of the novel is Iceland, but it plays a greater role than merely providing a location. The country and its traditions, its myths, its mysteries, and its physical attributes of climate, terrain, and weather set the tone of the work. The climate is harsh, with its cold, its damp, and...
(The entire section is 1787 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 22 (August 1, 2008): 42.
Kirkus Reviews 76, no. 15 (August 1, 2008): 23.
Library Journal 133, no. 14 (September 1, 2008): 103.
New Statesman 136 (July 30, 2007): 60.
Publishers Weekly 255, no. 29 (July 21, 2008): 140-141.
The Wall Street Journal 252, no. 105 (November 1, 2008): W13.
(The entire section is 26 words.)