Review of “1222” by Anne Holt

This story is set in the middle of a raging February snowstorm in Norway. A train traveling from Oslo to Bergen derails near the railway station at Finse, which is 1222 meters above sea level, hence the title of the book.

The narrator is Hanne Wilhelmsen, a retired police inspector who has been paralyzed from the waist down since a shooting four years earlier and is now confined to a wheelchair. She lives a rather quiet, isolated life with her partner, Nefis, and their daughter, Ida. She was traveling alone, however, to see a medical specialist, and was evacuated along with other survivors of the crash to the train station hotel. Altogether, there were 269 people on board, and at first, only the train driver died.

As the blizzard kicks up and the passengers become good and snowbound, the death count begins to climb as well. A few die from delayed traumatic injury, but there are also a couple of murders. Since Hanne is the only one with any police experience, she, along with a solicitor and a doctor, try to conduct an investigation and apprehend the killer before more people die.

Finse Train station, with a sign indicating its height: 1222m.

Discussion: This is apparently the seventh installment in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series. It is the first to be published in the U.S. however. Even so, I had no trouble getting into the story. On the other hand, it sort of ends in medias res – the crime is solved, but all the other pending plot lines are simply dropped. I can only think that because it is a series, they will be picked up in some later book. As it was, however, it left me feeling quite bewildered and a bit robbed.

Evaluation: Holt does an excellent job in making you feel the bitter cold of the wind and the inexorable onslaught of endless snow. She also nicely chronicled the change in atmosphere as the days wore on among those who were trapped. I wasn’t all that taken with Hanne however, nor of any of those trapped along with her; in any event we didn’t get to know any of them all that well. Hanne makes plenty of asides about the Norwegian character and Norway’s social institutions, but some of it may seem puzzling to the American audience. There was also a bit of what I thought of as silliness to make the book more politically timely and internationally relevant. But really my biggest complaint is, as I stated in the Discussion, the story just stopped. In the middle of what was happening. Without carrying out the plotlines. Only the murder, which seemed only a minor subplot in view of the storm and the interaction of personalities confined to the lodge, was brought to a resolution. I was left dissatisfied.

Rating: 2.5/5

Published in the U.S. by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2012

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16 Responses to Review of “1222” by Anne Holt

  1. Staci@LifeintheThumb says:

    That is the perfect time for that feeling—robbed! I hate it when books leave me this way. Makes it harder to try that author again!

  2. Beth F says:

    The dropped plot lines would drive me batty. Too bad this didn’t work better; I generally like this kind of mystery (do they call it “closed room”?).

  3. Sandy says:

    I could be wrong, but I think the big issue here is that we (English speaking folks) have been plunked down in the middle of a series. Now some series take great care to make each book stand-alone, but not all of them. The lack of insight into the characters, the incomplete story, etc. I’m just surprised that the publisher decided to do such a thing.

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    Why oh why do they translate series out of order like that? I’m with Candace, the dropped plot lines are unappealing.

  5. Trisha says:

    Yet another reason I read series in order – and preferably after they have all been published. 🙂

  6. Right?? I reviewed this one a few months ago. I liked it pretty well, up till the last bit. (With the helicopter…) So ridiculous and far-fetched!

  7. zibilee says:

    I just received this book, and am not happy to hear that it leaves you hanging at the end. I am not sure a book with a ploy like this would tempt me to read the next in the series. It was good to read your review and hear what you had to say. I might have to skip this one.

  8. Darn, it sounded so good until you got to the hanging bits.

  9. Stephanie says:

    This novel sounds really promising — it’s too bad the story crashed. I wonder if the author intends to tie up these plot lines in the next book in the series?

  10. It would be frustrating to be left hanging like that. I guess it would be better if the series could be read in order. I never understand why publishers publish translations out of order.

  11. bookingmama says:

    Oh darn! I have this one for review!

  12. That’s nuts to translate out of order of the series! Someone dropped the ball on that one, what a shame.

  13. Jenners says:

    Ack! It sounded like a good premise (almost like a locked room mystery) but it sounds too problematic to get behind.

  14. cbjames says:

    But isn’t that what happens on long journeys? You meet people, get to know their on-going stories, and then leave them before you find out how the story ends.

    This one sounds good to me, Even though you didn’t like it, for reasons I understand, I think I’ll check it out.

    Sounds kind of fun really.

  15. Barbara says:

    Mostly, this book sounds good. Are you preparing for winters in Chicago? lol

  16. Pingback: Mini-Reviews- Cupcake with a Little Icing, Cupcake with Sprinkles, Cupcake with Cherry on Top Ratings! | Books in the Burbs

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