Monday, August 27, 2007

"Half Moon Investigations" by Eoin Colfer

I've wanted to read more of Eoin Colfer since I found his short story "Taking on PJ," a hilarous tale of two small-time crooks trying to avoid a beating and worse at the hands of a true tough guy.

Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, has a nice career going as an author of books for children and teenagers, though, and does not seem especially likely to grow up any time soon. So I decided to grow down and try one of his young people's crime books.

Here's the opening of Half Moon Investigations:
My name is Moon. Fletcher Moon. And I'm a private detective. In my twelve years on this spinning ball we call Earth, I've seen a lot of things normal people never see. I've seen lunch boxes stripped of everything except fruit. I've seen counterfeit homework networks that operated in five counties, and I've seen truckloads of candy taken from babies.
A child who reads that may just develop an affectionate attachment to crime fiction. Adults may like it, too. I do.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007
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11 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

I read the Artemis Fowl books earlier this year and enjoyed them. They reminded me a little (a very little) of Kingsley Amis's caper books, without the language.

August 28, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Caper books as in crime capers? I didn't know he wrote any. I also don't know anything about the Artemis Fowl books, though I can guess that they're funny.

August 28, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Oops. Why am I confusing Kingsley Amis and Donald Westlake?

An obvious example of, well, something.

August 28, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

An obvious example of ... of, er ...

I thought you might have had Amis mixed up with his son, who did write a crime novel or two among his dabblings in genre fiction.

But any similarity with Westlake's caper novels is a selling point for me. I've read all but one of the Parker novels and all the Dortmunder novels and stories, including the excellent "Walking-Around Money" in Ed McBain's Transgressions series. I may do some Fowl hunting this afternoon.

August 28, 2007  
Blogger Dave K. said...

Damn, crime fiction for youngsters is a great idea! Love that opening. Sure wish I'd thought of it.

August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Michael Walters said...

I'm intrigued by the confusion between Kingsley Amis and Donald Westlake. But, for what it's worth, Amis Senior did write one crime novel, 'The Riverside Villas Murder' - something of a pastiche, but typically well done. And of course he also contributed an excellent addition to the James Bond canon, 'Colonel Sun', under the pseudonym Robert Markham.

On the subject of crime fiction for children, there are also Anthony Horovitz's splendid Diamond Brothers books, which have great titles - 'The Falcon's Malteser', 'The French Confection'...

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I knew that crime fiction for younger readers existed. At least one of the major crime-fiction awards has categories for young-adult and children's books, I think. This is the first time I've read any, though.

Perhaps the Westlake-Amis confusion is due to a dimly remembered reading of that Amis crime novel.

Re Eoin Colfer, it's interesting to see how he handles conventions of P.I. and other crime fiction: the private eye and his police contact, the complication that kicks in just when the case appears to be solved, the obvious suspect who may turn out not to be the perpetrator after all. It's easier to see these features in a young-adult story than in an "adult" mystery, I think, which might make a book like this useful reading for a class in writing detective stories. But the story still works as a P.I. tale and, yes, as a mystery. There are also a couple of lessons in the book that i should think any parent would be happy to have a child read.

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

Couldn't agree more, Peter. Colfer is an incredibly talented writer, who doesn't pander to kids when writing for them - which is probably why adults like his stuff too. Half Moon Investigations is very clever in the way it incorporates the crime fiction / mystery tropes, but adapts them for a younger perspective. A pretty tough thing to do, I'd have thought, but Colfer pulls it off brilliantly.

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Yes, I'd say Colfer knows his stuff when it comes to writing a mystery story. As funny as the opening paragraph is, the way he builds a detective story with the material at hand is even more impressive.

Now, what happens when some bright child raised on Artemis Fowler gets hold of Dublin Noir and asks, "Mommy, what does `ride us both with a table leg' mean?"

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Ladies and gentlefolk, I appreciate all your attempts to excuse my confusing Westlake and Amis, but I'm afraid it was just one of those, um, (shhh)...senior moments.

I think it highly unfair of the Intelligent Designer (snort!) not to have given humans a selective memory dump button; there's a lot of material stored which I don't need to remember.

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Don't let Donald Westlake, 74, hear you make any cracks about senior moments.

August 29, 2007  

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