Finished "Skulduggery Pleasant" by one Derek Landy (he's seemingly from Dublin).
My verdict: It's a very nice book. I had some fun reading it, that's why I think I can recommend it.
But: Please keep in mind that this book is aimed at and lablelled "a children's book", so don't expect too much complicated and extensive story-outlines.
Because of that, everything reads a bit "simple" ... almost too simple for my own taste.
My heaviest point of critique is that the describing of the locations needs to be "fleshed out" (like the second protagonist, by the way). They're far too thin, and don't appeal to the senses at all (especially since I'm a defender of what I call "sensual writing").
My worst example of this is the description of the "replacement car", which is given to the second protagonist (Mr. Pleasant) after he had had a small crash with his own car.
The point is that the description practically doesn't exist at all. Nothing. Nada. Niente. Niet. Nichts. All you can read is the reaction of the main protagonist (a twelve-year old girl), and the much later added nickname "Canary Car" - it is yellow.
So, the sceneries desparately need much more sensual descriptions. Hopefully this will be better in the second book which is scheduled for release in the April of 2008.
Anyone who loves dry humour should definitively take this book into consideration. The dialogues are very funny in this respect, and belong to the best ones I've read for quite some time.
This has to do, I think, with the author writing "screenplays" before, the book and the web site say. This has led imho to a very strong development of dialogues, but on the other hand leaving the rest (especially the descriptions !) very weak - they leave a lot to be desired, imho.
So, all in all, what speaks for the book is the good, dry humour, the second protagonist (an undead one) and the theme - I think I can agree to the quotes presented in the book saying that this book is a "right thing" (by me) for Harry Potter fans. It's daily life story mixed with a "second world" or "second reality" which is kind of full with magic and strange things. In this book, this is leaning a bit towards the "horror" genre - which is no surprise since the author has written - as the book says "screenplays for a zombie movie and a murderous thriller in which everybody dies". But since is a "children's book", this horror theme is taken lightly - you won't see much blood, in fact. The only real "horror-themed" thing is the confrontation with the "big evil boss" at the end of the story, and his minions.
Well, I hope I've written enough for everybody to give everyone a clue on how to decide whether this book is the "right read" for someone or not.