• 1222 by Anne Holt

    A train en-route from Oslo to Bergen in the worst storm ever to hit Norway. The train crashes high in the mountains near a village. A few are injured, the train driver is killed. Locals are soon on hand to rescue the survivors from the train and help them to shelter from the storm. But they are all stranded in an ancient hotel, The Finse1222, which is 1222 meters above sea level. There is no hope of rescue until the storm abates. And it looks to be set in for a while. The 269 survivors become an enforced community.

    A bitter ex-Police inspector (Hanne Wilhelmsen), crippled by a criminal's bullet is amongst the survivors. She has already saved the life of a baby as the train crashed, having caught it in mid-air. Rescued from the wrecked train by some villagers, the survivor are taken to the hotel. There are the usual cast of heroes, misfits, the brave, the bitter, the religious zealots, the rabble-rousers, the Middle-Eastern couple, the teenage group and the ever helpful and faithful hotel owner. Of course there are the mysterious passengers on the secret carriage. The ones who are rushed away into a private wing of the hotel. No-one speaks with them Ė no one has anything to do with them at all. Who are they? Royalty? Terrorists under guard? All we know is that some of the people have guns.

    The scene is now set for murder. When it came it was hardly unexpected, and nor was the victim. The only challenge was finding who. How do you keep the community from panicking as you hide the body with the gunshot wound? What about the next one? There is a dog, covered in blood. Did the dog kill the man? How do you investigate without suspicions being roused? And you know what? I wasnít really bothered. I didnít really care who was the next victim. I felt no affinity for them.

    I found that I kept expecting the word 'luckily' to appear in the beginning of sentences. Luckily(!) Hanne had lots of coincidental experiences and friends to help her solve the murder ( I can't call it a mystery, because it was not a hard one to figure out).

    Anne Holt is the Ex Norwegian Minister of Justice. I will be charitable and suggest that either it is because her first language is not English, or the fact that the book was translated that is the reason that the narrative was stilted and just didn't flow, the language uninspiring.

    I so wanted to be on the edge of my seat while I read this book. I hoped to be eagerly flipping to the next page, anticipating the next dramatic revelation. I wanted goose-bumps. I wanted to feel some emotion. Unfortunately all I felt was a wish that I could just get through this book so I could read something else, something gripping. The premise of this novel was good, but it was a wasted opportunity.

    As a novel to fill a dull few hours stuck in a snowed in Airport itís OK. As something to get your teeth into itís lacking too much. A lover of crime novels will be so disappointed.

    I score this book a generous 2 out of 5.