Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday Night Bloggers: 1222 by Anne Holt

Though Scandinavian mysteries were the rage a few years ago (Perhaps still are for all I know), I didn't really find the couple of books that I read very appealing.Then I heard about 1222 by Norwegian author Anne Holt and how it was a homage to Agatha Christie and so was excited enough to borrow it from a library.

The protagonist of the book is Hanne Wilhelmsen, a middle-aged former police-officer whose career officially ended when a bullet lodged in her spine leaving her paraplegic and wheel-chair bound. When the book opens, she is on her way to Bergen to meet an American doctor who specialises in back injuries and paralysis. However, the train that she is travelling on derails en route and the passengers find themselves 1222 metres above sea-level in a place called Finse with a snow-blizzard blowing that is said to be the most devastating in recent history. Amazingly, only the driver of the train dies in the crash and the rest of the passengers make their way (with some local help) to a nearby hotel which is virtually empty at this time of the year but is thankfully well-stocked and has a competent staff.

Initially, for some of the passengers (esp a beer-drinking German party) this is a great adventure but as the days stretch with no help forthcoming and the storm increasing in its intensity, the tensions between the passengers - a dwarfish doctor; a run-away teenager; his goth girlfriend; a bumbling priest; a roughneck with a few of his cronies; a television vixen; a Hijab-wearing one-half of a Muslim couple - surface. On top of it there is a mysterious passenger enclosed somewhere on the top-floor with Z-Security. And before long there is murder, then another and mayhem descends and it is up to Hanne (who is as anti-social as anti-social can be) to find a solution before the chaos turns the passengers into a mob which turns on itself. She is helped in this endeavour by the hotel manageress; the helpful local with the snow-mobile; the doctor who seems to be everywhere but how far can she  trust them?

I have mixed feelings about the book. The mystery is good, the atmosphere is well brought-about, but there is a whole lot of personal baggage that Wilhelmsen carries and it got to a point where I was only reading the book to know about the mysterious occupant. So, if I get a book of this author, I might  read it but I am not actively looking for more books by her.

First Line: As it was only the train driver who died, you couldn't call it a disaster.

Original Title: 1222
Original Language: Norwegian
Translator: Marlaine Delargy
Series: Hanne Wilhelmsen #8
Publication Details: London: Corvus, 2010
First Published: 2007
Pages: 352
Source: CL[52696]

Submitted for Tuesday Night Bloggers who are looking at Non-US/ Non-UK mysteries this month.

My earlier submissions:

Malice by Keigo Higashino
The Sixth Simenon Omnibus by Georges Simenon


  1. Interesting points you make, Neeru. There really is quite a lot of 'personal baggage,' as you say. I do have to admit, though, that I really liked the atmosphere and the sense of suspense in this one.

    1. Thanks Margot. Yes, the atmosphere is good so is the mystery but I got fed up with the main character after some time.

  2. Thanks! I have added your link to the TNB post!

    1. Thanks Bev. Liked the focus on non US/UK crime writing.

  3. I have read some Scandinavian mysteries, not a lot. Some of the authors I like a lot, others are just OK. I have this one but I am not going to read it until I have read more of the earlier books in this series. I did like the first one in this series.

    Personally, I don't think Scandinavian mysteries are any better or worse than the ones I usually read, but sometimes they do give a picture of areas I know very little about.

    Nice review, Neer.

    1. Thanks Tracy. I haven't read much of Scandinavian writing either though I have a few books on my shelves. I have nothing against these mysteries but there was a lot of hype round them a few years back and the ones I have read haven't really lived up to that hype.