Best known for his immensely popular Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer departs from his usual territory and delves into the world of crime-solving with his latest book, Half Moon Investigations.
"I really wanted to do something that was quirky and funny," the author says from his home in Wexford, Ireland. Colfer's basis for the new detective novel seems to be a combination of childhood adoration for the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series and the adventures he shared with his five brothers. More inspiration came during a big 40th birthday party that he had thrown for himself and a large group of friends he had known since the second grade. "At the end of the night, someone asked when I was going to write a teen book," recalls the author, "and it started us talking about all of our escapades." Shortly thereafter, Colfer set about putting the shenanigans to paper, and Half Moon Investigations came into being. Of course, he has changed the names to protect the not-so-innocent, but most of his friends know who they are.
"It's liberating to write about people I know. It makes it an easy process," Colfer says. He was also adamant about making the stories seem true to life, rather than dealing with "fluff" cases. "I wanted my characters to solve actual mysteries," he says, and they do. What starts as the search for a missing notebook escalates into a whodunit involving stolen iPods, burning playhouses, a deafened dancer, a bludgeoned protagonist and more—all seemingly unrelated until our brainiac detective solves the crime spree.
Colfer confesses that he fashioned this quick-thinking character after another person he knows: himself. "I wanted to get away from whimsy and darkness of Artemis Fowl and have a good guy, but not a superhero," Colfer says. "To have someone with no clue about how to talk to girls and be unsure of himself, to be quite smart but have a lack of confidence. Much like myself."
As it turned out, it took Colfer a mere eight months to pen the first draft of the book—and with so much material to draw on, this might be just the beginning of our journey with Fletcher Moon. "I have a second book planned," the author says, "and I would like to do a series." But that's not all he has on his plate at the moment. Colfer is also writing the next Artemis Fowl book and researching a work of historical fiction.
Although Colfer's books are for readers 10 and up, his inspiration comes from a younger audience—his two sons Sean and Finn, 3 and 8, respectively. "I started writing picture books for Finn," Colfer says, "after he came home one day frustrated that he couldn't read the books that people were talking about at school." Six picture books later, he has become a bit of a master. "Picture books are quite intense," the author says. "Every word counts." As it happens, another picture book is in the works as well.
With all of these projects underway, Colfer could be forgiven if he longed for a little spare time. Not so, says the author, who previously spent 15 years teaching elementary school. "I still treat writing as my hobby, so I think of that as my spare time." And when he's not writing, he likes to spend time with his children. "I have an office in the back garden, so I commute about 10 meters to work every day," Colfer says. But there are a few distractions: "Every time I look up I see a child stuck to the window like Garfield."
Keeping writing close to home has always been a part of Colfer's lifestyle. His mother wrote plays and taught drama, and his father wrote academic books. "Writing and drawing was the norm in our house," he recalls. In fact, three of his brothers are also involved in the arts—a screenwriter, an architect and an archaeologist who moonlights in a rock band—but none are as celebrated as the Artemis Fowl author thus far. Although he has had to deal with a bit of teasing from his brothers, for the most part, Colfer's fame hasn't affected his perspective on life. "I don't think about the celebrity end of it or let it affect me in any big ways," he says, "but I do end up having to buy the beer all the time."
The generous author may be picking up the tab even more often in the next few years. In addition to Colfer's own writings, a comic book series featuring Artemis Fowl will be hitting bookstores in early 2007 and filming for a movie on the same subject is expected to begin later this year. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Fletcher "Half" Moon is a bona fide twelve-year-old detective, with the badge (earned from an online private investigators' academy) to prove it. The story begins humorously, but the drawn-out plot grows tedious. Boys looking for a lightweight action-adventure story might find enough here to keep them entertained, or they might decide to close the book before Fletcher closes the case. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #4
A cross between Dragnet's suave Joe Friday and a scrawny middle-school nerd, Fletcher "Half" Moon is a bona fide twelve-year-old detective, with the badge (earned from an online private investigators' academy) to prove it. His first-person narrative begins promisingly with a burst of film-noir humor funneled through a kid's perspective ("Doobie would sell out his own mother for a sweaty handful of jelly beans"). Unfortunately, the hilarity isn't sustained once the investigation, involving a notorious local family of ne'er-do-wells and a cluster of odd petty crimes against young people, gets underway. Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl books) adds some colorful elements to the case, such as a scheming band of ten-year-old girls whose all-pink garb masks their black-hearted intentions. But the drawn-out plot grows tedious, and the banter between Half Moon and his partner Red never quite catches fire. Boys looking for a lightweight action-adventure story might find enough here to keep them entertained, or they might decide to close the book before Fletcher closes the case. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 March #1
Combine Sam Spade's manner, Encyclopedia Brown's curiosity and Columbo's deductive tenacity-that's Fletcher Moon, kid crime-solver. Never mind that he's only 12-Half Moon (he's short) is a real detective with an official badge from the Bob Bernstein Academy to prove it. When classmate April Devereux hires him to find her missing lock of pop star's hair, the case gets tangled in her all-girls' club, the snarkey Sharkey family notorious for thievery and talent-show contestants at St. Jerome's school. With unlikely ally, Red Sharkey, Fletcher follows clues that point to some kind of weird conspiracy, but he's forced undercover when someone tries to frame him for the crimes. Mystery-solving readers will ignore the European words-euros for dollars, guards for cops, cola flagon-to smugly sidestep red-haired herrings, giggle over Fletcher's disguise and grin deviously when the cast of suspects line up on stage for the grand inquisition. Half Moon is full-fledged fun and a sure-fire booktalk: Just describe Moon's eight-year-old, snot-nosed snitch who always has green yo-yo's hanging from his nostrils that he snorts in and out. A sub-theme of "information is power" is cleverly embedded in the fast-paced romp, while the ending leaves a trail for future investigations. (Fiction. 10-14)First printing of 250,000; $200,000 ad/promo Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 January #5
This tale from the author of Artemis Fowl tracks the hilarious exploits of brainiac Fletcher Moon, a mere 12 years old and already a graduate of an online detective course. His first case: Ã¼ber-brat April Devereux, "head of an entire tribe of Barbies," hires him to find out who swiped the lock of a pop star's hair that she bought on eBay. Suspicion centers on Red Sharkey, oldest son of the town's leading crime family. Unraveling the mystery leads Fletcher to break rule No. 1 in his detective's handbook--"Be invisible"--and most of the other rules, too. The large but distinctive supporting cast includes a female school principal whose iron hand is aided by a pair of menacing Dobermans, and Fletcher's older sister, Hazel, who works out her boy troubles by writing plays and poetry while locked in her bedroom. "How about a rhyme for pathetic?" she asks Fletcher, who suggests "prosthetic" (this for Hazel's "epic poem about [his] date with April"). While the setting is suburban and the well-to-do kids have the same fixations as their American cousins, Colfer tailors the details specifically to Ireland. April's cousin May is a step dancer ("Go and do your Riverdance thing," April says dismissively at one point), the boys play hurling ("the Irish sporting version of pitched battle") and swear loyalty by invoking the Irish marble oath, "Brick miss must celt ." It's a place many readers will very much enjoy visiting. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
FYI: A q&a with author Eoin Colfer ran in the January 26 issue of Children's Bookshelf; see www.publishersweekly.com/bookshelf .[Page 70]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-7 -Diminutive Fletcher Moon may not be the most popular 12-year-old in his Irish town but he's proud-maybe a little too proud-of the badge that he constantly flashes to let everyone know that he's an online graduate of a private detective academy in Washington, DC. The other kids admit that Fletcher, aka "Half Moon," has solved several tough cases at Saint Jerome's Elementary and Middle School, so they come to him when they have a problem. But when super all-in-pink girly-girl April Devereux hires him to find a lock of a pop star's hair that she claims was stolen by one of the Sharkeys-a family of well-known criminals-everything starts going wrong for Fletcher. His precious badge is taken, he finds a single huge footprint at every crime scene, and he's picked up by the local police for arson when the Devereux playhouse burns down. When Fletcher goes on the run, who becomes his number-one ally? Young Red Sharkey. A typically funny Colfer offering without the mania of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Artemis Fowl" series (Hyperion), the story wittily delivers the message that some people aren't-for good or ill-who they appear to be. Kids who enjoy comic mysteries will have a great time with Half Moon , and the conclusion drops plenty of hints that this could become a series.-Walter Minkel, New York Public Library[Page 136]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.