Anne Holt is Norway’s bestselling female crime writer. This is her 8th novel featuring ex-detective Hanne Wilhelmsen and is the first to be translated into English. Hopefully more will appear in English soon. Other titles by Anne Holt – not from this series are available in English.
The story begins with a train coming off the rails in the mountains in Norway (1222 metres above sea level). The driver dies in the accident, but the passengers sustain minor injuries at most and are taken to a nearby hotel. A blizzard sets in and the passengers are trapped until the storm dies down and they can be rescued.
One of the passengers is ex-detective Hanne Wilhelmsen, now paralysed from the waist down after being shot in the spine.
The tensions start to build between the trapped passengers as they form into groups – religious leaders, business men, a right-wing TV personality, a Muslim couple, a group of arrogant teenagers, and the passengers from a secret carriage on the train.
Then one of the passengers is murdered. Despite being very anti-social and wanting to avoid all involvement, Hanne starts to apply her detective skills to finding out which passenger is the murderer. By the time that the rescue helicopters arrive a few days later, the passenger numbers have been further reduced.
The story was fast moving and exciting – surprisingly so for a group trapped for several days on a mountain. The character development is excellent and I developed a real love-hate relationship with Hanne who is certainly not a typical detective.
I was not able to work out who the murderer was till the very end. And there was quite a humorous part at the end concerning the passengers from the secret carriage. It made me wonder if the train wreck was an accident after all.
I’ve definitely added Anne Holt to my list of great authors to watch out for.
Book Published 2007
Published in English 2010