1222 by Anne Holt
For American readers, this is an exciting place to jump into the Norwegian mystery series featuring police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen; at 1222 meters, or 4000 feet above sea level, in a snowstorm. Hanne and 267 other passengers are on a train from Oslo to Bergen when it derails near a tunnel entrance. Only the driver is killed, and the passengers are evacuated to a nearby hotel. We quickly learn that Hanne is in a wheelchair, having been shot in the spin 4 years earlier. For a cranky, reclusive woman, Hanne is pretty good company. Injured in the crash, she is treated by Magnus Streng, a charming dwarf physician. Hanne takes angry teen Adrian under her wing, and the various groups from the train settle into the different wings of the hotel until they can be rescued. A death in the night brings Hanne to work with a small group of leaders to make plans and keep the passengers from panicking, especially as the weather worsens, and another death is discovered. Young teen athletes, older youth headed to a concert, a church group, doctors on their way to a conference, and the unknown passengers aboard the train’s extra carriage variously blend, clash, eat, and get impatient. While I would have preferred Hanne to spend less time observing that different passengers could use a shower or clean clothes, I did find this to be a fast-paced and intriguing mystery. As in most Scandinavian mysteries and crime thrillers, it is dark, cold, the detective has personal issues, and much coffee is drunk, Holt makes her own mark on the field with a book that has much in common with traditional English country house mysteries. For readers who prefer to start at the beginning of a series, the first two Hanne Wilhelmsen mysteries have recently been translated into English.