the guardian Fri 19 September 2008
Peter Høeg's first novel for 10 years returns to the theme of lost children which haunted both 1992's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (his bestselling novel) and 1993's Borderliners (his best). Høeg's writing has always had a metaphysical bent to lighten its melancholic intensity, and his new thriller is less prosaic than ever. Kasper Krone (aural mystic, Bach-freak and tax evader) has a feeling not for snow but for sound: he can hear the "musical key" that "She Almighty" has set for each person. Like Smilla before him, Krone uses his gifts to uncover a sinister conspiracy, while Høeg uses his unique narrator to reveal a feeling for beauty which can transform the ordinary as sensuously as a snowdrift. The trouble is that there is precious little that is ordinary here to get a grip on. The Quiet Girl is a dazzling fantasia, but it lacks the political anger about Greenlanders or institutionalised Danish children which helped ground Høeg's earlier novels. Even readers who lose the plot, though, should appreciate the lush, lyrical prose.