1222 by Anne Holt

1222 is a deceptive  thriller in the vein of Agatha Christie’s  ” And Then There were None”. a story where the killer walks among the innocent slowing picking off victims one at a time and the tension mounts as the survivors turn on each other.  The novel begins with a train derailment in the mountains in the north of Norway, on the way from Bergen to Olso, when the engineer suffers a heart attack and the near 200 survivors are taken to a disused hotel near the accident site.  Help is coming as is a deadly storm so they must wait to be evacuated.  Among the survivors, is a retired policewoman confined to a wheelchair following a shooting the year before.

Hanne Wilhelmsen is a prickly character, resilient and tough and not easily likeable on the surface. Hanne makes her U.S. debut in 1222, the eighth in a series that started with The Blind Goddess.

The first victim found is the body of a popular priest; and Hanne suggests keeping the body on ice (literally) until rescuers arrive.  But, the mood in the lodge continues to darken as, more bodies start appearing, and it gets harder to keep the guests from panicking. The title, 1222, refers to the height above sea level, making the rescue more dangerous and the storm intensity increases with each chapter. With little wheelchair access, Hanne spends her time in the lobby, watching fellow passengers and directing staff and a few passengers in order to hunt down the killer.

Holt is Norway’s top crime writer and was  it’s minister of justice in 1996-97, has sold over five million copies of her books in Europe. While Hanne is probably not someone you’d invite over for dinner, she’s a fascinating character and a great detective.

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