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Half-Moon Investigations    by Eoin Colfer order for
Half-Moon Investigations
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Eoin Colfer is a master storyteller with an impressive range - from innovative fantasy in his Artemis Fowl series to thrilling SF in his Supernaturalist missions, and a redemptive afterlife adventure in The Wish List. Now he brings us young PI Fletcher Moon, opening a new mystery series with Half-Moon Investigations. Though intended for the middle school crowd, younger and older readers alike will enjoy this story.

Fletcher Moon, nicknamed Half Moon for his diminutive size attends Saint Jerome's Elementary and Middle School and has a passion for detective work - so much so that he used his dad's birth certificate to take an online PI course and graduated top of his class. He begins by telling us (perhaps echoing the teacher/author's own thoughts) that 'when you've come face-to-face with the dark side of the school yard, life doesn't hold many surprises.' Half Moon continues to admit 'I was wrong. Very wrong.'

It all starts when Half Moon's snot-nosed informant Doobie pulls him into a case involving Herod Sharkey. Solving it - via an observation worthy of Sherlock Holmes - gets the young PI on the bad side of Herod's protective, rowdy big brother, Red Sharkey. Then April ('If a Barbie doll walked through a magnification tunnel, April Devereux would emerge at the other end') hires Half Moon to discover who stole a lock of celebrity hair from her (she suspects Red). The PI soon uncovers a series of similar incidents.

Then things get sticky. There's the obligatory (for a professional PI) attack and concussion that lands him in hospital, but Half Moon's next wobbly attempt to gather evidence renders him the prime suspect in an arson case. Soon he's on the lam from the law, disguised, risking life and limb, and with the most unlikely allies, as the plot twists and turns through a rollercoaster ride of surprises - and surprising villains. Technology plays a key role too, involving cell phone photography and the instant messaging of evidence.

I like the young PI's selfish but supportive sister Hazel, his police detective ally Murt Hourihan, his elderly colleague Dominique Kehoe, and his new best friend and partner - all bode well for future episodes in a new series which is my favorite of the author's work (second to Artemis Fowl of course!) As always, Eoin Colfer provides awesome entertainment, but in this school context, he also incorporates good lessons about prejudice, and not taking anyone - no matter their age or sex - at face value.

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