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About Jernvognen

Stein Riverton

“By all accounts, Stein Riverton’s 1909 novel Jernvognen (The Iron Chariot) may be his best known work of fiction. It is a thriller which possesses real literary merit. Riverton hoped that his story of the mysterious chariot which moved in the dead of night wihout leaving any track would have the same appeal to the senses as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles published in 1902. Added to this atmosphere of the supernatural was his ingenious twist on the theme of the least-likely persons being revealed to be the murderer. Those who read English detective novels may recall Agatha Christie employed the same twist in 1926 in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Critics at the time argued whether or not she played fair with her readers in her method of presenting (and also hiding) the vital clue to the solution. Few readers in 1926 realized that a Norwegian named Stein Riverton had anticipated her illusion some 16 years earlier.

The novel retains its appeal to this day and has been adapted to other media. In 1981, it became a radio drama on NRK and more recently adapted as a graphic novel which has been translated into English as The Iron Wagon.”

from the foreword by Dr. J: Randolph Cox

The setting is an island off the southern coast of Norway where vacationers are enjoying the hospitality of a resort hotel. Following the suspicious death on the island’s moors of Forestry Agent Blinde, recently engaged to the beautiful Hilde Gjærnes, master detective detective Asbjørn Krag is summoned to investigate. Krag must disentagle jealousies, deceptions, and past crimes to solve this mystery. And to complicate his investigation, Hilde Gjærnes’ grandfather is killed at night on the same moor, while Asbjørn Krag is only a short distance away.

And then there is the mysterious jernvognen, an iron wagon that haunts the moors and the island. Curiously, the sounds of the wagon are heard the nights when Blinde and old Gjærnes are found dead. But, the wagon leaves no tracks in the ground and is never seen. Just what is this iron chariot?

Aschehoug published this book in 1909. The Iron Chariot (US$15.95) is the first English translation of this charming mystery. Jernvognen: En norsk-engelsk lesebok (US$36) is the second book in Nelsbok’s Norsk-engelsk lesebok serie.