Hardback: 277 pages
Publication Date: 12/05/2011
Apparently, the fact that I loved Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books when I was a teenager means that I need to grow up. At least, according to the shoutline on his debut crime novel, Plugged, I do. Not that this novel is anything like the Artemis Fowl series – I certainly don’t remember young Artemis encountering much in the way of blood, torture and murder during his adventures [even if Colfer did describe the series as “Die Hard with fairies” !].
But Plugged does retain the wit that underpinned the Fowl novels – albeit, here it is far darker and more adult in tone. And much of the humour arises from the first-person narration of its central protagonist / hero, Dan McEvoy, an Irish former soldier turned bouncer working in a seedy New Jersey casino called Slotz. But, despite his vocation, his size and muscularity, and his ability for almost psychopathic rage [the last time I checked, killing someone with a key to the neck was a sign of slight mental problems!], Dan is no knuckle-dragging stereotype of a bouncer.
Indeed, he is one of the most witty, erudite and engaging first-person narrators that I have come across in a long time. But, when Connie – the hostess that he loved at Slotz – is murdered, Dan decides to hunt down the people responsible and take his violent revenge, aided only by an unstable cop-killing female cop [and calling her unstable is being distinctly kind!].
When it’s not being incredibly, bloodily violent – and even sometimes when it is – Plugged is riotously funny and frequently had me laughing out loud [something I usually try to avoid for fear my fellow Londoners may think I’m a bit odd]. In fact, in its ability to fuse multiple types of humour with a crime noir sensibility, this novel reminded me a lot of the writing of Carl Hiaasen, Chris Brookmyre and Bateman.
But there is also a surreal, almost wild quality about the writing and plot that brought to mind Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. For, like Thompson, Colfer really takes the reader on a trip, and one of the chief delights of the book is that you really cannot predict where it will twist next [and, honestly, I wonder if Colfer even knew where it was going next].
With its wickedly sharp dialogue and Colfer’s amazing eye for a description, Plugged is a hilarious and enthralling novel. And, having read it, I can apparently now claim to be a grown-up. Result!