Every so often you come across a book that is so astoundingly, brilliantly good, you want to shout it from the rooftops. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. Still, while I’ve reviewed many books I enjoyed, there have been very few that have made me want to rush out and buy copies for all my friends so that they don’t miss out.
1222 by Anne Holt is the latest book I’ve fallen in love with, and it’s fair to say I’m head over heels. So this review may resemble the gushing praise of a new lover rather than a more rational dissection, but what’s life without a mad crush here and there?
The set-up grabs your attention from the start. A train carrying a mysterious locked carriage derails high in the Norwegian mountains. The passengers are rescued and taken to an isolated mountain hotel. As the storm rages outside, and snowdrifts build up against the walls, one of the passengers is murdered. With no contact with the outside world, it falls to a reluctant Hanne Wilhelmson, former police detective, to find the killer.
Hanne is a character so three-dimensional it’s hard to believe she’s fictional. Paralysed from the waist down, she shies away from human contact and has built defences thicker than the snow outside. Her instincts are to avoid becoming involved, but as she grows to know her fellow passengers her isolation becomes harder to maintain.
Setting and characters are vividly painted, and the plot is beyond gripping. This is a book to keep you awake long past your bedtime. It’s in the best tradition of the Agatha Christie whodunit, but with the pace of Dan Brown and the topicality of the best thriller writers. In the end I can only say in this review what I have been saying to friends, family and colleagues – you have to read this book.