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JANUARY 3, 2012
1222 ~ Anne Holt
comments by CarolK
The premise of 1222 interested me from the start. I wish I knew where I heard about this book. I thought the main character, Hanne Wilhelmsen, an ex-police woman, paralyzed by a bullet, living a bland life in her wheelchair, sounded intriguing. I didn't realize at the outset that it was the eighth in a series from Norwegian author Anne Holt but the first to be translated into English. It can easily be read as a stand-alone but you probably will want to know more about that bullet and some other things about Hanne's personal life.
1222 is also billed as a locked room mystery of which I am a great fan. I think it qualifies as such in a looser sense than some I've read. The story starts quickly with a the derailment of the Oslo-Bergen train, caused by a patch of ice outside of one of many tunnels. The science of this is nicely explained though I'm still not certain I quite understand it. Fortunately for the passengers, only the driver is killed. Also fortunate for all is that the accident happens close to the Finse Station and an excellent hotel where the remaining passengers, including Hanne are offloaded for shelter. Good fortune runs out and the killing begins! As all are "locked in" by a raging snowstorm with no chance for rescue until it abates, you've got all the suspects and through Hanne's eyes must decide the who, what, and why.
I really liked the character Hanne Wilhelmsen and some of the other players in this mystery. The best of these are 15 year old Adrian described as "a petty criminal, a little shit" and a height challenged doctor named Magnus Streng who originally treats Hanna's gory injury in the train wreck. I think the story could have moved more quickly after it's" hit the ground running start" but I hung in there. I was not completely satisfied with the ending as I couldn't have predicted the killer from the clues. I loved that the title is taken from the location of the Finse Station, 1222 meters above sea level. I also really liked the use of The Beaufort Scale for Wind, beginning with 0 for Calm and ending with12 for Hurricane, as chapter headings with the promise of the increasing speed of impending disaster. Very clever.
All in all a pleasant read with great descriptions of the cold, bleak locale and some interesting introspection by the main character. The first in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, Blind Goddess, comes to our shores June 2012. I just might pick this up.