"The Secret Lagoon"

On the way to Holland in 2017, Laurie and I took advantage of Icelandair's offer of a free stopover in Iceland, where neither of us had previously been. We both wanted to experience a geothermal lagoon, of which the country has many, most famously the Blue Lagoon, which is not far from the Keflavik International Airport. From its website and its TripAdvisor reviews, though, it looked to us like the Blue Lagoon would probably be mobbed, and neither of us is comfortable in crowds, especially at times that are by their very nature intended to be relaxing. So we did a little poking around on the internet and discovered Gamla Laugin, the Secret Lagoon, a natural hot spring in the village of Fludir, about a two-hour drive east of Keflavik, and I booked us a visit for the morning of our arrival.

The Secret Lagoon is as I describe it in this story, down to the "wedding concierge" in his bushy beard and waxed mustache, incongruous tam o'shanter cap and red bowtie. Laurie and I had the place almost to ourselves that day. I don't know what she was thinking as she let the geothermal heat soak away the fatigue of our long plane ride, but I remember what was going through my mind: This would be a perfect setting for a crime story, I thought, floating in the hundred-degree water, my neck and feet supported by long fluorescent pool noodles. But what would be the crime?

I eventually figured it out, as I explained in a piece about the story I wrote for EQMM's weekly blog, "Something is Going to Happen," which went live on September 18, 2019, a month after the issue was released.

I'm pretty happy with this one, especially happy to have finally found a way to fit a Citizen Kane Easter egg into a piece of fiction. And the issue also contains my translation of Anne Van Doorn's "The Poet Who Locked Himself In," making this the first time I've had both a story of my own and a translation in the same issue since January of 1985. (Didn't have to wait thirty-four years to do it again: I also had a new story of my own and a translation two issues after this one, in the January 2020 issue.)

In January 2022, "The Secret Lagoon" was reprinted as Michael Bracken's pick-of-the-week in Issue #20 of Black Cat Weekly, an e-only publication.

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