A train accident strands retired Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen in the middle of a fierce snowstorm with 268 other passengers, one of whom begins to murder the others in this brainy page-turner.
When ice on the tracks derails a Norwegian passenger train outside a tunnel, Wilhelmsen, not exactly a Pollyanna type ever since she was left paralyzed by a gunshot to her spine four years ago, considers herself lucky to be carried off to Finse 1222, an ancient, practically deserted hotel nearby. Other rescued passengers are less sanguine. Adrian, an accomplished thief at 15, whines constantly; sketchy financier Steinar Aass offers a local mountain man a fortune to snowmobile him back to civilization; and investigative writer Kari Thue nearly succeeds in mounting a full-scale insurrection against the authority figures who’ve taken control of the situation. After all, there was certainly an extra carriage added to the train, and the rumors that the royal family was aboard are only fueled by the news that a section of the hotel has been cordoned off, reserved for a group of passengers no one can identify. Even the passengers who aren’t especially impatient to get on with their lives, however, would certainly change their minds if they knew that Cato Hammer, an Oslo priest with a fondness for soccer, has been found shot to death—and that soon after Roar Hanson, another priest, tells Hanna that he knows who killed his old schoolmate, he follows him into the great beyond.
Holt (What Is Mine, 2006, etc.) makes curmudgeonly Hanna the perfectly astringent guide to this nightmare whodunit out of Ellery Queen’s The Siamese Twin Mystery and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.