Whenever I read a mystery, I really appreciate well-developed characters, but I also like a strong sense of place. The place doesn’t have to be some exotic location; it can be anywhere a library, a store, even a reservoir. Here are some of my favorite reservoir mysteries.
by Lee Harris
This cozy features ex-nun Christine Bennett, who is looking forward to the christening of her friend’s baby. When Christine goes down to the basement of the church she finds a skeleton that has been unearthed due to drought conditions. Thirty years before the town had been relocated when it was flooded to create a reservoir. Christine tries to sort out the sordid deeds of this once close-knit community and find out if there’s a killer in their midst.
by Arnaldur Indridason
This series, set in Iceland, features detective Erlendur Sveinsson. An earthquake drains a Reyjkavik lake and a skeleton is uncovered. The skeleton is weighted down with some sort of Soviet transmitting device. The author does an astounding job of transporting the reader back to the 1950s when idealistic Icelandic students were given Soviet scholarships to the University of Leipzig in East Germany. This author roots this story in history, but he also weaves a great tale about a melancholic detective, his woes and his search for the truth. This is an excellent read.
by Lisa See
Liu Hulan, an agent for China’s Ministry of Public Security, and her husband (an American attorney) investigates archaeological theft and murder at the controversial Three Gorges Dam. The dam will benefit millions, but the reservoir created by the dam will also destroy numerous archaeological sites. This mystery has it all — an intelligent, interesting couple still reeling from the death of their daughter, an exotic location, mystical artifacts, history and loads of atmosphere. NPR named Dragon Bones one of the top ten books of the summer of 2003.
by Peter Robinson
When a severe drought occurs in Yorkshire, England, Thornfield Reservoir becomes drained. What is uncovered is the long-drowned village of Hobb’s End... and a skeleton wrapped in WWII blackout curtains. Detective Alan Banks and Sergeant Annie Cabot investigate. Lots of history and WWII ambiance prevail in this very good mystery.
by Reginald Hill
Dalziel (pronounced “deal”) and Pascoe are British cops who work in the Yorkshire, England area. In the village of Dendale three children were kidnapped 15 years before and were never found; a fourth child escaped. The government wanted to create a reservoir where the village was located so they forced the villagers to leave. Most of Dendale’s citizens relocated to Danby, and guess what? Now a seven-year old girl has disappeared from this village as well. Great addition to an already-good series.
by Julia Spencer-Fleming
This series is set in upstate New York and stars Rev. Clare Fergusson, an ex-Army helicopter pilot and an Anglican priest. This book intertwines story lines from the 1930s, 1970s and the present. Many residents were relocated to Miller’s Kill when major flooding occurred because of the building of the Conklingville Dam, and Stewart’s Pond (which figures prominently in this story) was also created because of the new dam. A church ceiling that needs repaired, a missing doctor and the mutual attraction between Clare and the (married) local sheriff all make for a great story.
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About Leah Smith
Leah lives near Washington D.C. and is an obsessive list maker. She loves lists so much that she creates topical bibliographies -- for fun. She also collects volvelles, nutcrackers, unusual names and map hankies. She talks about books and many other things on her blog, Fig Newtons and Scotch.
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