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by Anne Holt
Translated from the Norwegian by Marlaine Delargy
Reviewed by Kate Morgan

On a frigid night, with a snowstorm raging, a train derails in the Norwegian mountains. The driver is dead, but 269 passengers are rescued, transported by snowmobile to a nearby isolated hotel at the station—1222 meters above sea level—to wait out the storm until help can reach them. This includes the mysterious passengers from the closed and heavily guarded carriage at the back of the train.

On board the train is former police investigator Hanne Wilhelmsen. Though only middle-aged, she is now retired because four years prior two gunshots severed her spine and rendered her a paraplegic. She's not exactly people friendly these days and prefers her own company, but when one of the passengers, a celebrity priest, is found shot to death, it is Hanne that some of the passengers turn to for answers. She's reluctant to actively investigate, and would prefer to wait until the local police can get to the hotel; but when will that be? Meanwhile, she and a rag tag band of associates—a local lawyer, the young hotel manager and a doctor who is a dwarf—must deal with the logistics of the murder and brainstorm how to keep things going smoothly among the marooned community.

Hanne has a prodigious memory, is a keen observer, and her attention to detail is at geek level. She's a bit grumpy and standoffish, but nothing that a decent night's sleep or a hot shower couldn't alleviate. Hanne, a complex and proud woman dealing with more than a few personal challenges, is immediately intriguing to any reader new to this series.

1222 is narrated in the first person by Hanne, an usual method of narration for a crime novel, and this has the effect of making the reader feel a part of the story. In what is an obvious homage to Agatha Christie, the novel has all the hallmarks of a classic Christie crime novel: an isolated location, a finite group of suspects, and at the end of the story, all of the suspects together in one room while the killer is revealed. It's a delectable set-up in and of itself. Yet Anne Holt has skillfully woven the classic with the contemporary in this fine crime novel. The reader is drawn in immediately and is not released until the storm lets up and the killer is revealed.

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