by Eoin Colfer
9781590204634, $24.95, The Overlook Press
It’s not often that I say this, but I believe this book falls firmly into the “written by a man for men” category. While I appreciated it for being a quick, light read that had nothing to do with the types of books I usually read (can I actually claim to have a usual type?), the humor, though accessible, would clearly be greater appreciated by a man, probably a middle-aged one, like the character in the novel.
The title, Plugged, is a play on both the hair plugs troubling the main character with the slang term for being shot (both of which are pretty major plot points as you might imagine). Irish-transplant, ex-army, middle-aged Daniel McEvoy is a bouncer at a low-end club (gambling and girls) in nowhere New Jersey. Life ain’t great, but it’s not bad either, and Dan is mostly trying to keep his head down and get from one day to the next without a PTSD flashback, an altercation with his sleazy boss, or a run-in with his crazy upstairs neighbor. If he occasionally gets to hook up with one of the hostesses at the club, Connie, all the better.
Yet in his capacity as bouncer for Slotz, Dan can’t really avoid trouble, especially when one of the customers licks Connie’s ass. Literally. Takes a big ol’ slurp. Gross. After throwing the guy out of the club, Dan’s life goes from humdrum to hell-in-a-handbasket when Connie gets plugged, his apartment gets ransacked, his best friend/slash/hair transplant hook-up goes missing, his upstairs neighbor suddenly decides Dan’s the reincarnation of her long-gone-lover, and Dan has no choice but to help solve several who-dunnit’s in order to stop the (rough-and-tumble, heart-as-cold-as-ice, yet strangely attractive) policewoman from looking at him as the culprit. Hilarity in the form of a possible ghost living in Dan’s brain, Irish Mike (the mick crime boss who’s never been to Ireland), a freezer, a suburban drug ring, a half-naked police officer, a dog with sore testicles, a locker of firearms, and a wild poker game ensues.
The writing in this review is somewhat reminiscent of the writing in the book – “some moments are fat with menace,” Dan thinks: an example of the protagonist-acknowledge clunky metaphors and tongue-in-cheek references that abound. I personally appreciate humor that’s a little more sly, a little more cheeky, and a little less reliant on the reader sympathizing with the character because they see in him a reflection of themselves. That said, it was an enjoyable read, and not too heavy despite the subject matter. Ultimately, though, this being the second Eoin Colfer novel for adults that I’ve read, I much prefer his writing for the Middle Grade set in the Artemis Fowl series.