1222 metres above sea level, train 601 from Oslo to Bergen careens off iced rails as the worst snowstorm in Norwegian history gathers force around it. Marooned in the high mountains with night falling and the temperature plummeting, its 269 passengers are forced to abandon their snowbound train and decamp to a centuries-old mountain hotel. They ought to be safe from the storm here, but as dawn breaks one of them will be found dead, murdered. With the storm showing no sign of abating, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. But Hanne has no wish to get involved. She has learned the hard way that truth comes at a price and sometimes that price just isn't worth paying. Her pursuit of truth and justice has cost her the love of her life, her career in the Oslo Police Department and her mobility: she is paralysed from the waist down by a bullet lodged in her spine. Trapped in a wheelchair, trapped by the killer within, trapped by the deadly storm outside, Hanne's growing unease is shared by everyone in the hotel. Should she investigate, or should she just wait for help to arrive? And all the time rumours swirl about a secret cargo carried by train 601.
Why was the last carriage sealed? Why is the top floor of the hotel locked down? Who or what is being concealed? And, of course, what if the killer strikes again?
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(240mm x 163mm x 27mm)
Publisher: Atlantic Books
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Book Review: 1222 by Anne Holt - Reviewed by CloggieA (11 May 2011)
Anne Holt’s latest novel is “1222”. The numbers refer to the height above sea level of the town where this modern version of the classic crime story takes place. The story starts with a derailment just as the train leaves Finesnut on its journey from Olso to Bergen. Plenty of injuries, but the train driver is the lone casualty. Amongst the 269 passengers who are evacuated to the nearby century-old mountain hotel are self-indulgent teens, German tourists, a church group, a sports team, the unseen occupants of a mysterious extra carriage, a group of doctors (conveniently for those injured) on their way to a conference and retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen. Add some locals and hotel staff, a snowstorm to ensure everyone has to stay put, a murder (or two) and you have the definitive locked room mystery. Hanne is not Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot: there’s no rubbing of hands together with glee at the challenge; she doesn’t want to get involved. Hanne is paralysed, confined to a wheelchair, limited to the lobby level. Whilst relying on those around her for some pertinent information, her powers of observation and deduction are obviously acute and she has the case solved in time for the classic denouement when the cops finally arrive. Anne Holt gives us a prickly heroine. She’s cynical, perceptive, has a very dry sense of humour and an incisive wit. Hanne’s inner monologue is a delight; her other characters and the dialogue are realistic and the action is non-stop. Holt touches on several topical issues and throws in a bit of philosophy. The Beaufort scale chapter headings are a fitting touch. “1222” gives the reader undiluted pleasure throughout: this novel is hard to put down. Marlaine Delargy’s excellent translation certainly deserves a mention.
Author Biography - Anne Holt
Anne Holt spent two years working for the Oslo Police Department before founding her own law firm and serving as Norway's Minister for Justice in 1996/97. Her first book was published in 1993 and she has subsequently developed two series: the Hanne Wilhelmsen series and the Vik/Stubo series. Both series will be published by Corvus.