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The Arctic Incident    by Eoin Colfer order for
Arctic Incident
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In the first volume of this stunning series, twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis had free rein to run the Fowl empire after losing his dad to an explosive encounter with the Russian Mafiya, and his mother Angeline to dementia. With a little help from bodyguard Butler, Artemis finagled secrets from a drunken fairy, kidnapped LEP Recon officer Holly Short, and started an inter-species war. Though he got more of a fight than he bargained for, Artemis did win fairy gold and even gave some back in exchange for his mother's sanity.

This second episode of the series shows us a thirteen-year-old Artemis back at boarding school, playing mind games with a succession of counselors. Then an email from the Russian Mafiya propels him out of Ireland and into a series of adventures, involving an unaccustomed amount of fresh air and exercise. Holly Short has a well deserved starring role once again. Just call her Holly Croft or perhaps it should be Holly Bond, since she has her own tame inventor - centaur Foaly of the 'four left hooves' - supplying clever devices.

On a boring stakeout job (punishment for the loss of fairy gold to Artemis), Holly has a run-in with the B'wa Kell goblin triad. When a projectile hits her sprite partner, it's 'Fairy down' and an urgent call for backup. The LEP officer wonders who can be behind goblins with 'barely enough electricity in their brains to power a ten-watt bulb', especially after she finds evidence that they are in league with Mud Men. Still smarting from their previous encounter, she immediately suspects Artemis and brings him in. Surprisingly, since Commander Root would rather 'swallow live stink worms' than solicit the Mud Boy's help, they discover common interests against the Russian Mafiya and the B'wa Kell.

However, the enemy is one step ahead all the way, leaving Artemis, Holly, Butler and Root to scrape through a succession of traps from Paris, France to the radioactive Russian Arctic. Aside from the sadly stupid goblins, there are some interesting new characters like bumbling French P.I. Luc Carrère and Opal Koboi, a genius pixie villainess with perfidious plans to take over the Lower Elements and rid the Earth of Mud Men. Familiar faces include the 'deformed and demoted' Briar Cudgeon, and (I was delighted to see) my old favorite Mulch Diggums doing what only he does best, to the profound admiration of Artemis.

The Arctic Incident is an exciting sequel, possibly even better than the first in the series. Artemis cleans up his act as he discovers a few individuals above and below ground whom he can respect ... though he does keep his hidden bank accounts in reserve, and has criminal plans involving his new friend Mulch. Aside from the rollercoaster adventure and the techno-magical mix that is the series' trademark, I enjoyed touches of humor like Mulch's Oscar burglaries and, of course, his ever versatile applications of dwarf gas. All in all, both Artemis Fowl Books are worth their weight in fairy gold!

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