You may know Eoin Colfer as the author of Artemis Fowl series (described as “Die Hard with fairies” by Colfer), or as the holy one chosen to write the sixth Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book, And Another Thing…, for which he was commended for doing the impossible: pleasing Adams’ fans and creating a great new book of his own. (By most people, anyway.) Now he’s gone and written a “part crime noir part screwball comedy” for adults, and having never read him or comic crime before, I was a bit nervous.
Especially when I heard that it was about hair plugs.
“Meet our hero Daniel McEvoy. Daniel, or Dan as he is known to his friends (if he had any) is an Irishman in New Jersey who ekes out an existence as a bouncer in a seedy strip joint. Dan is moving on as soon as his hair grows in. Once he has hair he’ll be happy. At least that’s what he tells himself anyway. Unfortunately Dan’s best laid plans often go awry and the murder of a hostess (who he definitely didn’t have a thing for) sets off a sequence of events that lead our hero outside the law, pursued by ruthless drug dealer Mike Madden and with only an unstable cop-killing female copy as his ally. Disclaimer: Daniel McEvoy is definitely not based on Eoin Colfer himself.”
Plugged is narrated by Dan, a former Irish soldier who joined the army because he figured that it was ”better dying overseas than living at home.” Between his murky past in Ireland and the horrors of war – “war” in this case being UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon – Dan has a litany of mental health problems (post traumatic stress, imaginary friends, daddy issues), an aura that according to a gypsy he met once looks like “shark-infested water” and a set of hair plugs that have yet to take. And only a few pages in, all hell breaks loose for him.
After Dan has to eject a patron from the club where he works as a bouncer after an argument over whether or not licking a hostess is the same as touching a hostess, the hostess in question is found murdered the following night. On top of that, his hair-transplant surgeon (whom he first met when one of them was performing a, ahem, enlargement operation of the kind only males can get) is missing and someone has trashed Dan’s kinda trashy apartment. There is also a cop-killing cop, a criminal overlord, a corrupt lawyer and a deranged neighbor who’s convinced that Dan is her ex-husband. Add in plenty of gratuitous violence, blood, weaponry, Dan pretending that he is her ex-husband and, um, grabbing an angry Rottweiler by the delicates, and you have something along the lines of The Sopranos meets Curb Your Enthusiasm meets When Unlicensed Cosmetic Surgery Goes Wrong 3.
(So I made that last one up but, come on – surely it’s only a matter of time before Sky TV gets around to making it?)
And it’s hilarious. Truly. The wit in this book is so sharp that your fingers aren’t only at risk of paper cuts. Description is definitely a gift of Colfer’s – one of my favorites was “he looked like the Bee Gee that married Lulu, after walking through a plate sheet of glass” (!?!) – but his dialogue is just pure joy. (Has this man written a screenplay? Because if not, he needs to.)
The one thing that was missing for me here was suspense; I didn’t really care who had done it or finding out what was really going on, but considering I was getting the giggles on every page, did that matter? I don’t think so. This book is more about the journey than the destination, and boy – it’s a fun journey.
I give Plugged two thumbs and a head’s worth of newly implanted hair plugs up. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Plugged is out on May 12th. Click here to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk. Thanks to Headline for my copy.