Maddy's Reviews > 1222

1222 by Anne Holt
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's review
Jan 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read in January, 2012

PROTAGONIST: Hanne Wilhelmsen, retired police inspector
SETTING: Northern Norway
SERIES: # 8 of 8 (first translated into English)

A train on its way from Oslo to Bergen, Norway, derails in a remote northern region during a horrific storm. Amazingly, only one person, the driver, is killed. The remaining 268 passengers are transported by local rescue teams to an old tourist hotel, Finse 1222, so named because it is 1222 meters above sea level. The stranded passengers stay in one of the hotel’s two buildings. The storm rages and becomes so fierce that even the most experienced local guide is unable to go outside, and all rescue attempts have been thwarted.

At first, the situation is an inconvenience to the travelers; but it soon turns dangerous as several of them are murdered. In the group is a retired detective inspector, Hanne Wilhelmsen, who gave up her career several years earlier after being shot in the spine. Confined to a wheelchair, she wants nothing more than to be left alone. But the situation begs for her intervention. She bands together with a few of the local men and the owner of the hotel to stop the killings and find the perpetrator. Another mystery involves a group of people, including armed guards, who were on the last car of the train. They were spirited off separately, and there are many theories about who they are—members of the royalty, terrorists, escaped prisoners, and so on.

1222 is a classic locked room mystery, albeit with a great many more suspects than is usually the case. It was fascinating to see the impact of the isolation on the group. It was equally interesting to see Hanne shed her aloneness and become involved with people other than her immediate family for the first time in years. The secondary characters in the “inner group” were also quite intriguing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book until its conclusion. It felt to me like Holt just wanted to end the story. The reader was not privy to all the details that led Hanne to identify the killer. In addition, the red herring suspects were dealt with quite summarily. It was disappointing to have what was an excellent read conclude so unsatisfactorily.

That being said, I look forward to the translations of Holt’s other works becoming available in the US. Holt has been very well received here, as evidenced by the recent nomination of 1222 for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, winner to be announced in May of 2012.

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