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Highfire    by Eoin Colfer order for
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Eoin Colfer is a brilliant writer (think Artemis Fowl). In his latest, Highfire, he takes us to the Louisiana bayou where a very old (perhaps the last of his kind) dragon hangs out, watching Netflix and drinking vodka. The dragon, Vern (short for Wyvern), reminds me of Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets.

Toss in a very corrupt and well armed cop (Regence Hooke), and the fifteen-year-old, smart-ass hero (Everett 'Squib' Moreau) who's seen too much of said cop's murderous activities, and you have a read that will hold you glued to its witty, fast-paced action to the end. Time flies while turning the pages.

Swamp rat Squib lives with his single mother Elodie, a nurse with poor taste in men - but not so poor as to include Hooke! Squib tries to earn what he can, but when he takes on a job for a swamp moonshine runner, he sees Hooke murder his new boss. Hooke realizes there's a witness (but doesn't identify him) and goes after him with a grenade launcher.

This leads to Squib meeting Vern, whose immediate instinct, being the last of his kind and in hiding, is to kill him, but Squib escapes. Eventually (with help from his mogwai friend Waxman) he persuades Vern to hire him as his gofer - to shovel dragon shit, deliver vodka, make martinis, and so on.

Unfortunately, Hooke doesn't give up. He hires three military-trained bent cops, acquires heavy-caliber weapons, and hunts a dragon. As the action heats to an inferno, young Squib asks himself 'What would Vern do?' Highfire is my top read of 2020 so far, and I sure hope Colfer gives readers more episodes of draconian action.

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