Monday, September 16, 2013

Book review: Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer



Title: Half Moon Investigations
Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: MG Mystery
Pages: 290
Publication date: 2006
Publisher: Puffin

My rating: 4.5 spitwads / 5

I thought I was a heck of a lot smarter than I really was in middle school.

We had four channels to choose from in my house (2, 6, 8, and 10) and my mom was the official Lady of the Remote from 6:00 until 9:00 on Sundays. After that she allowed my dad to turn it to something else while she went to bed and read herself to sleep. But it was during those three hours, the time when my mother held domination over all things entertainment, when I became a die-hard fan of Murder She Wrote.  

And also when I found out I’d be a terrible private investigator.

Me as a crime solver...

Every episode I watched, I knew the killer. I had the crime pinned on the thief in the first ten minutes. There was no criminal smart enough to escape the sleuthy savviness that was Brooks Benjamin, kid detective. But at the end of every episode I found myself fooled, embarrassed, and convinced that old lady had gotten it wrong. But, you know—I never stopped watching. They fueled my love for mystery and it stayed with me until this day.

Which is why I decided to review Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer. Many of you will recognize the name from the Artemis Fowl series, but those who are sitting there, scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to pronounce his name, just pretend it says “Owen” or “oh, win!” or something like that.

He's grinning because no one knows how to say his name.

Half Moon Investigations follows twelve-year-old Fletcher Moon, the only kid in Lock sharp enough to earn an online degree in gumshoeing. He’s solved more cases than he can think of, but it’s the most recent one that's giving his P.I. skills a metaphorical wedgie.

Fletcher gets “hired” by April to find a lock of hair that turns up missing. A few interrogations later and our MC’s got his sights on Lock’s most infamous thirteen year old criminal, Red Sharkey. Before Fletcher gets a chance to slap the cuffs on ol’ Red, both boys get hurled into the world of arson, assault, and computer hackery with multiple crimes pointing to them as the main suspects!

With the real criminal out there setting them up to take the fall, they have 24 hours to team up, connect the crimes, and discover the true culprit before they’re hauled off by the police for good.

Half Moon Investigations has such a great MG voice and Colfer plugs in a few brilliant moments of pulp to give it that fun, over the top hero-saving-the-day feel to it. There were a couple of times I read a phrase and discovered later that it was an Irish quip of some sort. It was never enough to detract from the story and any good MG reader who had a good language arts teacher could apply that invaluable context clues lesson there and figure it out.

What they probably won’t figure out, though, is the answer to this question: Who was behind all the crimes?

Or at least I didn’t.

I totes let Ms. Fletcher down.

Even after reading the ending again, I still couldn’t find all those clues that would've led me to that particular person. Which means, for me anyway, it sort of came out of left field. Could it be enough to make you throw the book across the room, screaming, “THIS IS HORSERADISH HOW WERE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT, MR. OH-WIN?!?

Nah. Or at least I hope not.

I mean, it’s not like in some episodes of Mrs. Marple where we find it was the gardener the entire time but we couldn’t have guessed it because we heard the gardener say three words during the entire show and no one ever suspected the gardener because he was in the garden gardening. But it’s certainly not Columbo-obvious, either.

I’m calling this one a happy medium. The reveal was brilliant and the book ends with a hint of a possible sequel. And I hope Colfer decides to continue this series because it’s got humor, action, adventure—every ingredient needed for a good MG mystery. While I was writing this review, I even discovered the BBC produced a TV series based on the book which I'll be searching for as soon as I'm done here.

I'm guessing Red's the one with the mohawk. Because mohawks are for criminals.

So if you love a good whodunit, try Half Moon Investigations, even if you're not a crime solver at heart. Because if you're like me and have already decided that the detective world would be better left to those more worthy...

I completely understand. And I won't even tattle on you when you tell everyone you figured it out.

Happy reading!

8 comments:

  1. Great review. Can't decide whether my son would enjoy this book or be confounded by it. I particular enjoyed the sentence where the hair 'turned up missing'. Is that possible?

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  2. I don't know how it's possible, either, but Oh-win pulls it off brilliantly. I'd definitely recommend it to your son--he's probably a lot smarter than me anyway. :)

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  3. It blows my mind I didn't know:

    (1) You’re a Murder She Wrote fan. I used to want to BE Jessica Fletcher. Or at least be her BFF. She was a writer *and* a sleuth!

    (2) BBC made a Half Moon Investigations TV show?! How did I not know this?

    I have so much love for this book and for Mr. Oh-win. Great review! :)

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    1. Confession time:

      I sort of wanted to be Jessica Fletcher, too. With better hair. And maybe more tweed. And a vespa.

      If you find the show, let me know how it is. I'm having a hard time tracking it down.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Brooks, the answer to ALL TV detective show who-dunits from the 70s and 80s - bad guy is the most famous guest star.
    You're welcome.
    OR
    Sorry to spoil it for you ;-)
    P.S. Love the review!

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    1. HAHA! Wendy, that's a brilliant observation. And it's always more obvious when the guest star plays some average Joe or average Jane character.

      In fact it's almost like the less conspicuous the mega star's character is, the more like he or she is a murderer.

      I wonder if this formula applies to real life?

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  5. I love your review and I grew up watching a lot of Murder She Wrote too. I need to read this book especially since my local library has copies. *squee*

    ~Akoss

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    1. You should! It definitely won't disappoint.

      Wikipedia lists an interview with him (not sure of the source) that mentions a possible book 2 where Fletcher pairs up with a group of goths that are obsessed with Metallica and Kate Bush.

      Be. Still. My. Heart.

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