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by Peter Høeg
Harvill Secker, October 2007
416 pages
ISBN: 1846550599

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Peter Høeg ventures well into the territory of fantasy in this outing. The book begins with two adults and a child visiting Kasper Krone. The adults request that he give the child, a little girl, lessons. He notices that their key is D minor – apparently not one of his favourites.

Kasper had an accident when he was a child. While he survived, the mishap left him with the ability to divine the musical keys to which all humans are individually attuned. Kasper is both a talented clown and a musician. He is also a gambler and is able, at times, to turn his talent to his advantage, but at the time the book commences, his luck has run out and he is destined to be deported from Denmark. He is guilty of tax evasion and this is to be his punishment.

When Kasper sees the girl, KlaraMaria, again, she tells him she has been kidnapped. The main theme of the book is his attempts to find KlaraMaria as well as a group of children like her, a group that has some kind of supernormal power.

To say Kasper is a flawed hero is far too mild. He is a devious conman, but his motivations are of the purest -- well, most of the time. His character is portrayed brilliantly and the reader is, at all times, caught up in his quest. He also seems to have a need for women which seems to stem from the loss of his mother when he was a child.

A strange order of nuns prove unlikely allies for Kasper in his search for KlaraMaria. His dying father, too, is, somehow, always able to help and enlighten.

It is always difficult to be sure of the quality of the prose through the filter of a translation but the atmosphere of eeriness is evoked beautifully in this novel. The translator, Nadia Christensen, has done a wonderful job. The prose flows as smoothly as silk, something which can't be said of many other translations currently extant in crime fiction.

For those readers who have waited eagerly for another work from the popular author of MISS SMILLA'S FEELING FOR SNOW, this will be a rare treat.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, October 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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