If Carl Hiassen married Raymond Chandler and engaged Dave Barry to be a surrogate mother, PLUGGED would be the progeny. Oh, grow up! This is a zany crime caper where such things are possible. With an unlikely title --- redolent of Chandler’s characters being “plugged” with lead bullets --- the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series makes his hilarious crime fiction debut, á la Elmore Leonard.
"If Carl Hiassen married Raymond Chandler and engaged Dave Barry to be a surrogate mother, PLUGGED would be the progeny."
Eoin (“It’s pronounced Owen!”) Colfer is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 titles published in 44 languages, with more than 20 million books sold. With PLUGGED, that number will increase exponentially.
Protagonist Daniel McEvoy is an Irish ex-pat and now a bouncer at seedy Slotz, a New Jersey casino. McEvoy’s friend, Zeb Kronski, has medical aspirations but no degree. That doesn’t stop him from injecting fake Botox or performing liposuction. It’s where Zeb injects the unwanted fat that magnifies the sassy, irreverent tone of this novel. Always a step ahead of the law, Zeb now transplants hair plugs for McEvoy and others. Perhaps that’s the titular plugged?
Connie DeLyne is a hostess “in a dump like Slotz,” and McEvoy comes to her aid too late, finding her dead with a dime-sized hole in her head. Detective Ronnie Deacon, “wearing anger on her face like latex,” investigates the homicide. Since McEvoy has “an aura that looked like shark-infested water [and could] piss people off just by walking by,” Deacon quickly focuses on him as the prime suspect.
Now, Zeb has gone missing, and McEvoy questions if indeed he killed them both, fixating on conversations he had with a military shrink, Simon Moriarty. Metaphors are mixed with a blender, as McEvoy observes that “curiosity has always been the cat that skinned me.” In that mix are thoughts popping into McEvoy’s mind (“I’m carrying around my best friend in my head”) that he later attributes to the voice of Ghost Zeb. “Ghost Zeb is turning out to be as much of a pain in the arse as his corporeal self.”
Complicating matters is Irish Mike Madden, a “Mick who has never been to Ireland, [whose] [p]rostitution, protection and a burgeoning crystal meth business" personify the Irish mafia. The closest he’s come to the Emerald Isle is a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Wearing “a sunburn of anger,” Irish Mike slams into Slotz, demanding to locate a mysterious disk from the day Connie was killed, when security cameras just happened to be wiped clean. “Well, it doesn’t get much more down and dirty than Slotz,” and the tables turn like a tornado.
Incredible imagination won’t suffice to solve this spectacular who-what-and-whydunit. This five-star story in the vein of Robert Coover’s NOIR has more twists than a box of rotini pasta. And it’s one of my Top Ten for ’11 review picks.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on September 14, 2011