Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
|Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Great fun as the Artemis Fowl author gives us a twelve year old private eye forced into solving a local crime spree, in a tight little plot narrated with a delightfully classy style.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: July 2007|
|Publisher: Puffin Books|
|External links: Author's website|
You might not be surprised to read of a private eye that is follically challenged, but it becomes more interesting when the hair that is at the centre of the problem is a missing lock of pop star's tresses, bought from eBay. It becomes even more interesting when the private eye is a twelve year old, calling himself a detective to the scorn of all his fellow school-goers, and treasuring two hundred dollars of tat he achieved by passing an online detective course.
When Fletcher Moon, or Half Moon, as he's nicknamed due to his stature, seems to solve one case at school very quickly, it immediately leads into the theft of his treasured detective's badge, and escalates to a whole crime wave when petty theft and malicious tampering against several young local people come to light.
Fletcher then has to retrieve his property - even though the only possible culprit is one of the Sharkey sons, from the neighbourhood's one-family crime wave no less. He also has to continue to suffer the slings and arrows of the other kids at school, from the pink-obsessed girls, to the snotty kids who look up to him (the only ones that can), and the constant barracking that Moon receives from everyone at school - for that is what they do.
Moon cannot understand other kids, for he is not like them. Eoin Colfer understands kids perfectly well - and has a brilliant lead character. OK, he might start out by narrating his story in an excellent pot-boiler, Dashiel Hammett voice, only for it to sag after a page, but you can empathise with the little private eye, and the adventure in this book is just right, full of brilliant characterisation and enough twists and turns to allow for perfect realism but at the same time a rollicking good, quick read.
It seems churlish to expect the whole Philip Marlowe before his voice has broken shtick to be maintained - I guess it would be an in-joke for us adults that would soon pall - and indeed the writing remains constantly entertaining throughout in other ways. Half Moon, is surely too good an invention to be given just the one novel. You set fire to May's garden. This is a dry month; that could have spread he says to one local lad, equally dryly. But funniness is not the only fun feature in the book - there is a strong plot, as I say, that might not have dropped my jaw in surprise but was very compelling.
There are also messages regarding themes of power in the story, should you seek to look for them. Not just the brain power as evinced by the nerdish short boy hero, but the general power sought by some pro-education girls, and more.
All this leads to a story that smacks of a lot more realism than the Hardy Boys ever did, with hosts more humour, but unfortunately it seems there is no sequel on the horizon - words I never thought I'd type.
Perhaps as a personal rating four and a half stars is more realistic - I sought more pastiche noir narrative, and the Irish setting could have been used even more, but that again might have turned off the young teenage reader, for whom five stars is surely the only logical response.
I would certainly recommend this to anyone in the target audience, for whom five stars is evidently the only response. To anyone else it remains a couple of hours of speedy and worthwhile reading. You can also turn to my Artemis Fowl review, again to see if I think this is a fluke from this inventive Irish children's author, or just what we can happily expect.
You can read more book reviews or buy Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer at Amazon.com.
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