Derek Landy is an affable Dubliner who was born in 1974 in Lusk, County Dublin. He wrote the screenplay for an Irish horror flick film called Dead Bodies and he also wrote the zombie Irish movie Boy Eats Girl, starring Samantha Mumba and Deirdre O'Kane. Life was presumably ticking along reasonably well. That is until he honed and perfected, and duly produced for popular consumption the fantasy-land scenario starring our eponymous hero. According to The Sunday Times in 2006, Harper Collins paid him one million euro for the publishing rights. They had a winner on their hands for sure.

Skullduggery and his pal Valkyrie have been dealing with all manner of macabre malevolence since Landy's first book in the series - simply called Skulduggery Pleasant - appeared. The book won the Red House Children's Book Award (children voted for the winning novel.) It was published in the US in 2009 as Scepter of the Ancients. Playing with Fire and Mortal Coil won the senior Irish Children's Book Award, in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Mortal Coil, the fifth book in the series has been the most popular, certainly until this latest 600-page instalment appeared a month ago. Mortal Coil sold 56,000 hardback copies alone in the weeks before last Christmas (in all territories presumably.)

So who is this oddly-named creation? Skullduggery is "a smartly dressed dead guy" and mentor to his wily partner, who was once an uncomplicated twelve-year old girl. Easily a match for the doughty crime buster that is Skullduggery himself, Valkyrie is a mean, bad-assed heroine who is not to be messed with. Valkyrie ensures those bad guys get to sleep very soundly with the fishes, metaphorically speaking.

In this latest instalment, the Necromancers are not in need of Valkyrie as their Death Bringer because. yep, they have found their own Death Bringer. (That's out-sourcing, Skullduggery style presumably.) This new kid on the block will "dissolve the doors between life and death." While this may sound innocuous enough to you or I, in Landyland it's "a very, very Bad Thing." Rest assured Valkyrie does not emigrate to Australia (where they need Valkyries presumably) but sticks around instead, hungry for the action. Suffice to say that herself and Skullduggery have seven days to uncover the Necromancers' secret before all hell breaks loose. "The clock is ticking and Lord Vile is loose .. "

Watch out in March 2012 for Skullduggery Pleasant - the End of the World, a novelette set after the events that take place in Death Bringer, t0 be published to coincide with World Book Day. www.skullduggerypleasant.com