1222: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel - Anne Holt, Marlaine Delargy

First line - AS IT WAS ONLY THE TRAIN DRIVER WHO DIED, YOU COULDN’T CALL IT A DISASTER.

 

1222 is the eighth book in the series of Crime Novels written by the Norwegian writer, Anne Holt, featuring retired policewoman Hanne Wilhelmsen. The book is set in the town of Finse in Norway, which lies 1222 meters above sea level, thus making it the highest Railway System located in Norway.

 

A train carrying passengers to Bergen comes under a hurricane and heavy snowfall, and crashes killing the driver immediately. The passengers on board, including the crippled Hanne, is evacuated to a nearby Hotel, where they are provided with food and shelter as the weather conditions goes from bad to worse. Keeping in tune with the nature the internal atmosphere of the hotel gets chilly, as within a few hours of evacuation one of the passengers is found dead with a bullet hole. Hanne being ex-police becomes the natural choice for leading the investigation.

 

The plot is in style of a classic whodunnit. We have our murder victims, we have more than enough suspects and we also get a closed door atmosphere. Although the total number of passengers from the train numbered up to more than 190, but the writer while creating a suspect pool kept the number within 10, with the other 180 passengers merely being side characters. The blood and gore normally associated with Nordic Crime fiction was absent. But the ending disappointed me,  somehow it felt as if the writer suddenly realised that she needs to end the book hence she needs to get someone within the suspect pool to act as a murderer. This abruptness mellowed down a plot which was going strongly and had the capacity of ending with a high note.

 

Another point where the book fell flat was the translation. Maybe it was because of this translation the book felt disjointed at times, and I found myself skipping paragraphs. So, if one manages to ignore these points, here is a book which is set in a foreign country, surrounded by an atmosphere as chilly as a psychopathic criminal, a plot which is somewhat loose but fast, and equally enjoyable.