Posts Tagged ‘1222’

During the sweltering dog days of summer I wrote about some of my favorite cold-weather books in hopes all the snow and ice would make me forget the heat. Now I have another to add to that list, 1222, by Anne Holt, a best-selling Norwegian crime novelist.

Yes, baby, it’s cold outside, so I recommend you read this shivery, locked-in-with-a-killer tale next to a blazing fire and with a hot toddy at hand.

 A train derailment in northern Norway — 1222 feet above sea level — finds the 200 passengers seeking shelter in a nearby resort hotel, vacant except for the staff. The old lodge is well-stocked with fuel and food, which is a good thing seeing as how the fiercest blizzard in years is raging outside. Doctors who were on board tend to the wounded, including frosty Hanne Wilhelmson, a former police detective who is partially paralysed from a bullet in her spine. Hanne, anti-social to the extreme, reluctantly accepts help once her wheelchair is retrieved from the train wreck, and she proves to be an astute, albeit prickly, narrator.

She doesn’t think much of her fellow passengers, although she is intrigued by those she considers outsiders like herself, including a teenage boy traveling alone, a doctor undeterred by his dwarfish appearance, and the hotel’s brisk manager. Like everyone else, she wonders as to the identity of the travelers in the private railway car who are now ensconced in solitary splendor high in the hotel with a private, armed staff. But a more looming worry is the intensity of the storm, which is burying the hotel in snow to the point that windows shatter and an entranceway collapses.

Then there is a murder. A popular priest is found shot in the drifts right outside the door. Hanne can’t help but be drawn into the investigation, and when another murder soon follows, she  thinks of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

It’s an apt comparison, as is Christie’s The Mousetrap and Murder on the Orient Express, with the storm trapping victims, suspects and detectives in a confined space. Brrrr. . . .  If there’s such a thing as cozy Nordic noir, it’s 1222

Open Book: I read a digital advance of Anne Holt’s 1222 (Scribner) via NetGalley.

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