Thursday, 12 January 2012


Title: 1222

Author: Anne Holt

Number of pages: 313

Started: 9 January 2012

Finished: 12 January 2012

Opening words:

As it was only the train driver who died, you couldn’t call it a disaster. There were 269 people on board when the train, due to a meteorological phenomenon that I have not yet understood completely, came off the rails and missed the tunnel through Finsenut. A dead train driver comprises only 0.37 per cent of this number of people. Given the circumstances, in other words, we were incredibly lucky. Although many individuals were injured in the collision, these injuries were mostly minor in nature. Broken arms and legs. Concussion. Superficial cuts and grazes, of course; there was hardly one person on board who wasn’t physically marked in some way after the crash. But only one fatality. Judging by the screams that ripped through the train minutes after the accident, one could have gained the impression that a total disaster had taken place.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

A train on its way to the northern reaches of Norway derails during a massive blizzard, 1,222 meters above sea level. The passengers abandon the train for a nearby hotel, centuries-old and practically empty, except for the staff. With plenty of food and shelter from the storm, the passengers think they are safe, until one of them is found dead the next morning.

With no sign of rescue, and the storm continuing to rage, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. Paralysed by a bullet lodged in her spine, Hanne has no desire to get involved. But she is slowly coaxed back into her old habits as her curiosity and natural talent for observation force her to take an interest in the passengers and their secrets. When another body turns up, Hanne realizes that time is running out, and she must act fast before panic takes over. Complicating things is the presence of a mysterious guest, who had travelled in a private rail car at the end of the train and was evacuated first to the top floor of the hotel. No one knows who the guest is, or why armed guards are needed, but it is making everyone uneasy. Hanne has her suspicions, but she keeps them to herself.
Trapped in her wheelchair, trapped by the storm, and now trapped with a killer, Hanne must fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the killer strikes again.

What I thought:

I like a good bit of Scandinavian crime fiction and I had high hopes for this book. Even a chap in Waterstones told me this was a really good book. But somehow it didn’t live up to expectations. It was readable enough and the idea behind the book was pretty good – a train trapped in a snow storm, people take refuge in a nearby hotel, and then murder victims start to pile up. But somehow I found the book never really took off for me. It lacked the ability to truly engage the reader (or this reader at least) and whilst I thought the characters had potential, I felt they never truly became fully fledged.

This is the second of Anne Holt's books that I have read and looking back at what I thought of her previous one, I see I was equally non-plussed by that.

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