The Draining Lake and its unique setting
Kleifarvatn is both the name of a real lake in Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula and the novel's title in its original Icelandic. The lake is (or was), in fact, disappearing after an earthquake, and the book's stark, one-word title must have resonated strongly with readers in Iceland.
The vulnerability is not just physical. Iceland's small size also makes it harder for its people to hide, should they choose to do so. This quite naturally will play a large role in police investigations, perhaps complicating them:
I'd thought Arnaldur's Jar City (Tainted Blood in the U.K.) took better advantage of its setting than any other crime novel I'd read. Now I'll go one step further and say that Arnaldur has Iceland in his bones and that no crime novelist I can think of has ever written books so inextricably tied to their setting.
I'll also invite you to disagree with me, or at least to name your candidates for stories that could not have been set anywhere else.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
"`Can you get away with bigamy in Iceland?' Sigurður Óli asked.
"`No,' Ellinborg said firmly. `There are too few of us.'"
"`You remember the big south Iceland earthquake on the seventeenth of June 2000?' she said, and they nodded. `About five seconds afterwards a large earthquake also struck Kleifarvatn, which doubled the natural rate of drainage from it. When the lake started to shrink people at first thought it was because of unusually low precipitation, but it turned out that the water was pouring down through fissures that run across the bed of the lake and have been there for ages. Apparently they opened up in the earthquake. The lake measured ten square kilometres but now it's only about eight. The water level has fallen by at least four metres.''