Summary: A family consisting of one irresponsible mother, one delinquent teenage boy (read: our hero), and one bed-wetting younger brother move from Dublin to a ramshackle house in rural Ireland whose last inhabitant may have run off in the middle of the night, may have met with foul play, or may have run afoul of the fairies. Robbie, the protagonist, gets increasingly involved in the mystery while trying desperately to escape back to his thuggish friends in Dublin.
Characters: The mother in this story had the first son at 14 and the second at 20. She is now 28 and still hasn't reached adulthood. She is constantly on the run from debt collectors and has no parenting skills whatsoever. Robbie, the hero, spends most of the book mourning the loss of his former life of crime or stealing vehicles to try to return to it. His friends consistently blow him off, and I just wanted him to give up on them and get to the murder mystery. Other characters include a list of shady city-dwellers and some good, honest farm folk in yet another story of how rural living and honest hard work can heal children lost to those sinful city ways. Just once, it would be nice to see an urban environment save an at-risk teen!
Plot: The murder mystery is actually pretty interesting and full of twists, but it comprises a tiny fraction of the book. Most of the action is dedicated to Robbie stealing cars and sneaking onto buses to get back to Dublin, where he witnesses and gives out beatings, or getting into arguments with his mother (they have a mutually abusive relationship), or...committing some other regrettable act.
Writing: The story is told from in the hero's voice, which did sound Irish, but was also incredibly whiney, self-pitying, and irritating. Sure, I've met some teen boys who were just like this guy, but they don't make the best company and they certainly don't make the best narrators. I'd call the writing true-to-life and well executed, but not enjoyable to read.
Pacing: Back and forth to Dublin. Argue with Mom. Criminal activity. Back to Dublin. Police trouble. Argue with Mom. Criminal activity. Lather, rinse, repeat until the end.
Ending: The ending was interesting, finally bringing out the strange resolution of all the mysteries. The epilogue redeems the narrative fairly well and leaves the reader happier.
Cosmetic: The cover on the edition I read was mostly black and quite gritty looking. It really fit the story, but it might not stand out in a lineup of more attractive covers. Also, with all the undead/werewolf/evil fairy lit out there right now, the title may mislead readers.
What more did I want?: I don't think it's fair to dangle a little bit of mystery in front of the reader and then go on and on about hot-wiring cars and stealing iPods. I wanted more of the mystery story than the tired old "troubled boy" merry-go-round.