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From Barnes & NobleI love friends that send me books they think I'll like. That's how I was introduced to Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, a book that put a nearly permanent ear-to-ear grin on my face.
The main character, a boy named Artemis, is the greatest criminal mastermind that has ever lived. Now the Fowls have been criminals for centuries -- pirates, forgers, gunrunners, robbers, con men, etc. -- but Artemis is something special. He's as cool as a cucumber, with an authority well beyond his 12 years. He has a commanding persona that's as smooth as China silk and is merciless in achieving his goals.
Is he pure evil? No, he has a conscience -- not that he lets that get in the way of what he wants. In a back alley in Saigon, Artemis and his manservant Butler (deadly hand-to-hand fighter, weapons expert, driver, medic, cook, and Artemis's constant and only companion) find what they've being searching the world for: a real live fairy. In this case, an alcohol-addicted fairy.
A deal is struck. In exchange for her life, the sprite will turn over a very important book. The Book is the key to all the secrets of the magic world: the fairies' laws, regulations and secrets. It is the Bible of the fairies.
The translation of the Book would take the work of a genius. Obtaining the Book itself would be the achievement of the century! But for Artemis Fowl, it is merely the first step in a bigger plan, one that will restore his family's fortune. He would be the first human to actually succeed in stealing fairy gold -- one ton of fairy gold to be exact! It's a bold, villainous, ambitious, audacious and rude plan (I need to mention again that Artemis is only 12 years old). But mixing crime and magic proves to be a dangerous matter, and the People (fairies) guard their gold fiercely.
The stronghold of the People is far underground, far away from the Mud People (the fairy name for humankind). It's a human-free zone, and the People intend to keep it that way. Their borders and the places they walk have been hidden from mankind for centuries. Human nature being what it is, if discovered, they would be hunted down and killed.
Captain Holly Short is an elf as well as a cop, a Leprechaun. More accurately, Holly is a member of the LEPrecon, the Lower Elements Police -- a formidable military force with a long, distinguished history. Their magic has been heightened by highly advanced technology, and Holly carries enough firepower to level a mountain.
LEPrecon is a dangerous and unforgiving assignment, and Holly already has one disaster on her record. But at the moment of her dismissal, she is the wrong elf in the wrong place at the wrong time. Four hundred pounds of enraged muscle have broken onto the surface in the form of an angry berserker troll -- a disaster in the making. The death toll in the human population would be high, and the consequences to the People would be devastating: discovery. Holly has to mount a retrieval mission, but she has neglected her rituals; and at the moment she will need it the most, her magic will come up short. Before the night is over, events will be set in motion that will place Holly in the sights of the notorious Artemis Fowl.
Colfer's novel was a joy to read. It was smart, fun, adventurous and full of humor. (Jim Killen)