Friday, February 6, 2009

Reservoir Noir! Drowned Towns in Mysteries

I'm sitting here on a rainy day in Northern California thinking about drowned towns. We're entering a third year of drought, and even though it's raining now, I don't think it will make up for the deficit of so many dry years. A few years ago a reservoir nearby was so low that a small airplane was seen above the waterline. It turned out to be a small aircraft containing the pilot that had disappeared many years ago. Most of the Drowned Towns I've read about in mysteries were from intentional flooding or damming.

I’m fascinated by the number of mysteries that concern Drowned Towns. I knew about the Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season and Reginald Hill’s On Beulah Height because I read them both fairly close together. Being a list maker I was thrilled to find the site Library Book Lists. The Listmaker at Book Lists defines the list as "Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation. "

The list is entitled Reservoir Noir, the term from Peter Robinson. Below are the titles, but click on Reservoir Noir for dates and synopses. As always, I welcome additional titles.

Drowning Day by Alan Dipper
Valley of the Deer by Eileen Dunlop (YA)
Christening Day Murder by Lee Harris
On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill
The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason
Walking the Shadows by Donald James
The Taking by James D. Landis
Emily Dickinson is Dead by Jane Langton
A Likeness in Stone by Julia Wallis Martin
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb
The Dead of Summer by Michael Miano
One Foot in Eden: A Novel by Ron Rash
The Devil Went Down to Austin by Rick Riordan
In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
Dragon Bones by Lisa See
Broken Jigsaw by Paul Somers
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Drowned Hopes by Donald Westlake
Rahpsody in Blood by John Morgan Wilson
Under the Lake by Stuart Woods

You'll find Other Drowned Town Fiction on Library Book Lists, as well as Non-Fiction about Drowned Towns and a list of Real Drowned Towns.

Don't think I'll do an issue of Mystery Readers Journal on Drowned Towns, but it's a great theme!


Janet A said...

Didn't we read Drowned Hopes in group a couple of years ago? I know I loved the book.

Janet Rudolph said...

I've added The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason, a fabulous mystery! This mystery involves Insp. Erlendur in a grim discovery revealed by the rapidly vanishing waters of Lake Kleifarvatn. Fissures caused by seismic activity result in sinking water levels, and the dry lake bed offers up a decades-old skeleton--weighed down by what appears to be an old Russian radio transmitter.

Tracey said...

Another worthy addition to the list is 'The Crossing' by Australian author B. Michael Radburn. The town is slowly being flooded by a massive dam project and residents are slowly leaving the town as the floodwaters reach their doorsteps. Great book!