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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 June 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Eoin Colfer, best known for his YA Artemis Fowl novels, has written an adult novel. An adult crime novel at that. Fresh from his extension of the Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy series he's moved on again to another genre. He's certainly a man not afraid of tackling new challenges. The problem is that Plugged seems a bit like a pastiche as well, or at the least someone copying genre tropes and producing a novel by rote from them.

That's not to say this is not an enjoyable novel. I whipped through it in a day at a gallop. I wasn't bored at all. I laughed a bit. And was pretty well entertained. I just can't see this being a worldwide bestseller like Artemis Fowl. Or it may well be because of his name, but it shouldn't be on it's merits. Plugged is a crime novel in the mould of Colin Bateman or Charlie Higson. That is comic crime, with a wisecracking first person narrative. A whole host of coincidences, a couple of gruesome deaths, strip clubs and drug dealing lawyers. On face value it all sounds good fun, and it is.

Daniel McEvoy is an ex-soldier. Relocated to a small New Jersey town to escape the horrors of what he saw as a UN peacekeeper in the Lebanon, he now works on the door of the town's dodgy strip club. When his friend (who is also the man responsible for his newly installed hair plugs) Zeb vanishes, one of the strippers is murdered and he accidentally becomes an accomplice to the death of a police woman McEvoy finds himself drawn into a world that is just as dangerous as the Lebanon of his past.

All pretty standard stuff. And in many ways that's not an issue, the fact that it stays so true to the genre tropes means you always get what you expect and are satisfied, there's just a suspicion that Colfer isn't really being true to himself as a writer and that tainted the book for me
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Plugged represents something of a departure for the acclaimed author of Artemis Fowl and other young adult novels, his latest novel heading for the more adult territory of crime fiction. But while the tone and content is definitely adult - it features a semi-delusional bouncer at a pretty sleazy "hostess" (ie. stripper) club who manages to get himself uncomfortably immersed in the crime and drug dealing world of suburban New Jersey - the reader will be happy to find out that there is still plenty of humour to be had with the subject along the way.

That's not to say that Colfer doesn't take Plugged seriously, or that he approaches the crime genre in any way half-hearted or tongue-in-cheek. Well, maybe just a little, since the hardboiled title could also refer to the hair-transplant treatment that Daniel McEvoy, the Irish-born bouncer at Slotz nightclub, and former soldier in the Peace Keeping forces in Lebanon, has been receiving from an old friend and doctor of dubious qualifications, Zeb. Zeb however has gone missing, seemingly mixed up with the worst of Cloisters' organised crime gangs, but before Dan can look for him, another incident at the nightclub involving one of the hostesses presents him with potentially a lot more trouble.

Colfer's venture into the crime genre doesn't sound like it offers anything new, not even the fact that Dan is a little bit deranged, suffering flashbacks to his time in Lebanon and hearing voices in his head - an imaginary Zeb constantly berating him for getting distracted from the case - but Colfer's angle is managing to make these problems witty and amusing. There is some amount of parody of the noir genre, but it's affectionate rather than poking fun at the genre, and not quite as broad in the humour as Bateman's Mystery Man novels, for example. When you're dealing with a crazy world however - and Dan comes across many entertainingly deranged characters - you have to laugh in order to survive.

You also have to laugh at yourself, particularly when you are Irish, are getting on in years and having something of a mid-life crisis, as Dan is here. That makes Dan an entertaining character to be with as he navigates the murky New Jersey underworld, and tries to keep on the right side of the not so perfect law enforcement services - to say nothing of the rather strange women who throw themselves at him. Nothing new then, but Plugged is a fast-paced and entertaining read that plays well within the crime genre while finding a new outlet for the author's trademark wit and humour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 April 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Many people know Eoin Colfer for his childrens books, including the great Artemis Fowl series. I read a number of his books whilst gorwing up, and always enjoyed the quirky, surrealist nature of his plots. In moving to the adult realm, none of this witty, quirky style is lost. The text is dotted with witty one liners and a great internal monologue written throughout the book as a great back and forth. However, Colfer does seem to struggle slightly in the move to the adult market, where the plot has to hold up to more scrutiny.

Plugged tells of an ex-soldier from Ireland, Daniel McEvoy, now a bouncer in a seedy nightclub in New Jersey. McEvoy is a wisecracking, fiery character with a well fleshed out backstory and is a thoroughly entertaining narrator to the story. McEvoy is a character that really allows Colfer's wit to flourish and delight the reader, there are few characters I'd rather follow through a tale than him. However, in one respect Colfer's lack of experience in the adult sector does rear its head - he is scared to allow his lead character to kill anyone. This is understandable when writing for teenagers, but in an adult novel this leads to scenarios which push suspension of disbelief too far. For instance, our hero is surrounded with incapacitated enemies, clearly intent on killing him; McEvoy walks into a building where he will clearly be cornered, and yet leaves all of his enemies alive. For an ex-soldier, this is frankly unreaslistic and really sullied the excitement of the ensuing scene as it just felt crowbarred in.

Other characters are also well fleshed out, if erring on the side of stereotype. The vile boss, his kiss-ass second in command, the dodgy doctor, small-time gangster aspiring to bigger things, Dan's ex army friends. Even characters that only appear for a few paragraphs seem to have been well-thought out and their actions are believable. For the most part. Aside from the aformentioned reluctance for his hero to kill anyone, there is also a character integral to a major plot forming twist towards the beginning of the book that could have done with a buit more justifying. This is only a minor niggle though, and it is clear that Colfer's true skill lies in developing characters.

That's not to say that the plot is especially lacking. Injected with the trademark zaniness of his other works, giving just the right amount of character to the piece without shattering realism, Colfer has succeeded in crafting a great yarn. Upon first considering this book, I did have concerns that this wouldn't translate - an adult author can get away with far fewer loose ends and needs a tighter plot and more fleshed out characters. These worries were not borne out, however, and Colfer truly has sculpted a great work that I would recommend to anyone looking for something different to the normal crime fiction fare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 October 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Eager to break away from his Artemis Fowl cash cow (and probably a bit resentful that he's forever associated with that series and as a writer of children's fiction while his other works are ignored) Eoin Colfer goes off in a totally unexpected direction with this surreal, tongue-in-cheek noir novel. It's got plenty of ideas and energy, but sadly never amounts to much.

Our lead character, and narrator, is Oirish Daniel McEvoy an ex-soldier scraping a living in New Jersey as casino bouncer. Life is quiet and uneventful until one of his hostess co-workers is murdered, which triggers a bizarre chain of events that turn his world upside-down. Colfer's writing seems too confident with its own sense of irreverence. It's a novel with many subplots and no main hook or common thread other than the main protagonist bumbling through the chapters and connecting the random madness together. Colfer even tries to cover up his own loose ends by using the old 'self reference' trick that is all to commonplace these days. Our narrator simply says 'I don't know where this is going' towards the end when a random plot thread literally cannot go any further.

I wanted it to be more, to build to a bigger climax, to end in the revelation of a big conspiracy. But Colfer never takes it seriously enough and despite the many chances and potential the book misses out on being expansive and is ultimately dissatisfying.

The style is full of wit and entertains on the go, but the end destination is let-down. At least the journey was fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 September 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Plugged's tagline states: 'If you loved Artemis's time to grow up.' To make that statement accurate, however, it would be necessary to add the words 'but just a little bit' as a suffix. To call this an adult book is to stretch the truth. Salman Rushdie and James Robertson, for example, write adult books. 'Plugged' occupies that middle ground between adolescent and adult fiction.

My only previous exposure to Eoin Colfer's writing was And Another Thing ... Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three, in which he did a fine job of extending Douglas Adams's legacy while staying true to the original blueprint. For that book, Colfer didn't have to create his own characters; he took those that Douglas Adams had spent decades creating and honing (to magnificent effect) and ran with them. Yes, Colfer did an admirable job that time around. As I started reading 'Plugged', though, the question that nagged at my mind was, 'What kind of characters will Eoin Colfer come up with when he has to start from scratch?' With this book, the answer turned out to be stereotypical ones that don't invite any real empathy from the reader.

The main protagonist, Daniel McEvoy, is a clanjamfrie of clichés: he's an ex-army man who considers himself tougher and more worldly wise than 'civilians'; he suffers frequent flashbacks to wartime atrocities (this clumsy literary device is used to reinforce in the reader that McEvoy has seen some very bad things); McEvoy now works as a doorman in a seedy New York strip club, where he - predictably - develops an affection for one of the strippers (although he insists on calling her a 'hostess', as he considers the term 'stripper' demeaning). My main criticism of Daniel McEvoy as a main character: he is a stereotype, not an archetype. The only thing that separates McEvoy from a million other ex-army characters in literature is his obsessive worry over his thinning hair. To me, this was the only facet of McEvoy's personality that humanised him and made him believable.

The other characters are two-dimensional and show no real evidence of personal growth throughout the story. The bad-guy gangsters and female cops could have been plucked out of comic books. Attempts at humour fail more often than they succeed. So there's nothing original, innovative or funny about the characters. But what about the plot? Well, this is where Colfer comes into his own. Despite the characters being underwhelming, the story rushes along at a heady pace, which makes the book enjoyable despite its shortcomings. After a hostess (McEvoy's crush, of course) is murdered, the action accelerates, keeping the reader engaged. If Colfer's characters had been more adult, more three-dimensional, and had developed as the story progressed, this novel could have been great. As it stands, file under 'Must Try Harder'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Eoin Colfer's plugged is a blackly comic, adult crime thriller. If I had to draw comparisons to other authors I'd probably say it was in the vein of Christopher Brookmyre but minus the satire, Colin Bateman but transposed from Northern Ireland to New Jersey, a harder edged, grimier Carl Hiaasen or a lighter Elmore Leonard. It doesn't come close to matching those authors' best works but with its mixture of profanity, crime, violence, gonzo characters, comedy, farce and general air of seediness its reminicent of all of them to one extent or another.

How much you enjoy it will depend to a great extent on your capacity for spending your time in the company of various low-lifes and in the squalid world they inhabit. All the characters on display are messed up to some extent, from the hero/narrator Dan to the wannabe gangsters, back street doctors and corrupt lawyers he interacts with. You'll also need be accepting of both violence and profanity because the book is packed with both. All this grittiness however, is offset by a rich seam of comedy that makes this a genuinely funny read, even if you sometimes find yourself wincing as you laugh.

Still I can understand that it will not be to everyone's taste and it remains a pretty lightweight affair, never achieving the depth of characterisation or biting satire of the likes of Elmore Leonard. As an enjoyable albeit blackly comic crime novel however, its fine and I would be happy to read more of Dan's adventures if Colfer chooses to write them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First off, let's take a look at the tagline and some of the "praise" from the jacket...

"Murder, corruption and hair loss in New Jersey" "Violent surreal and eccentric"

These two comments give entirely the wrong impression. The hair loss tag suggests that this is going to be some sort of a "Hitchhikers Guide" experience; perhaps a Chandleresque parody/pastiche with a Phillip Marlowe character spending more time worrying about his receding hairline than whodunnit. In consequence, I was reticent about picking the book up, but when I did I discovered that there is nothing particularly eccentric about it and it is certainly not surreal. The protagonist does not obsess (much) about his hairline although it plays a fairly central part in the story.

What we have in "Plugged" is a standard (and I am /not/ using that word in a perjorative sense) New York-ish crime caper. It is told in the first person, rather in the hardboiled/film noir style and that may explain the "eccentric" description but I can't believe that anyone who actually /read/ the book would honestly describe it as surreal.

To backtrack a little, both my daughters love Artemis Fowl, and when the series opened I had a go myself. I can distinctly remember not being particularly taken and never persisted, so when "Plugged" came around I had some doubts, reinforced by the impression given by the tagline and my general avoidance of crime fiction, old and new.

I persisted regardless and, well! what a book! It is exceptionally well written. I can report that some of the other praise you can read on the back cover or the Amazon product page is richly deserved. It's intelligent, warm and engaging, with a compelling and pacy plot that pulls a willing reader along. Unputdownable? Not many books live up to that description, but it is certainly a page-turner. The characters are richly observed, believable and, above all, /likeable/. I particularly liked Daniel the protagonist and narrator (well, I guess that I was supposed to like him) but even the baddies were portrayed in such a way that I enjoyed reading about them.

It's also funny. Not in a comic, parodical or exaggerated way by any means. The humour comes from Colfer's dry, ironic wit channelled through Danny's narrative mouthpiece and it is entirely in keeping with a "serious" novel. There are, however, plenty of LOL moments (and it's a special book that makes /me/ laugh out loud): Danny's phone conversation with an unsuspecting crime lord is a gem of funny-man/straight-man banter and his developing relationship with his unhinged upstairs-neighbour, Mrs Delano, is great fun as well. But, as the great Kenny Everett frequently said, "it's all done in the best possible taste" and to call it "crime comedy" does it a great disservice.

Colfer certainly has an eye for detail and the book weaves a rich and immersive tapestry. I've moaned in the past about padding, but it's testament to his skill as a writer that he can create such a dense, keenly obseved and described environment and still turn out a book that could reasonably be described as "slim" and is easy (and enjoyable) to read for it. I especially enjoyed Danny's flashbacks to his time in the Irish Army, on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon - that's not something that one reads about very often and it adds a fresh and interesting angle to the main story.

As far as the plot is concerned, I'll leave that to the product description and the other reviews. I will say that I found Danny's (frequently violent) self-extraction-from-tight-spot techniques to be a little miraculous, but I found it quite possible to forgive these deus ex machinas on the grounds that this is a thriller and, miraculous although they may be, they are also always thrilling.

To conclude, this is a great story, well told and exciting and, to those not well versed in Colfer's other work, a bit of a surprise package. It may not immediately appeal to those who have never tried or are not moved by crime fiction, but I urge you to try it regardless. I am sure you won't be disappointed.

Beware - it is an adult book and there are adult themes and strong language that make it unsuitable for younger readers; although it is probably quite acceptable for young adults, I suggest that the parents may want to read it first and make that decision themselves. However, this parent will now be breaking into his daughter's bedroom to raid her bookshelf for a bit more of Colfer's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2011
This book marks Eoin Colfer's move from children's to adult fiction with the introduction of another serial character: Daniel McEvoy - ex Irish army sergeant, now working as a doorman in a sleasy New Jersey nightclub, worrying about losing his hair and trying to stay out of trouble.

McEvoy is an attractive character and his reflections on life and death, as he tries to extricate himself from increasingly complex and life-treatening situations, are very entertaining and often insightful. However in spite of the violence the book is more of a comedy than a thriller: except for a few scenes there is little sense of menace, and the wise-cracking, though generally entertaining, on a number of occasions simply does not ring true, disrupting any tension that had begun to accumulate. Hugh Laurie managed the combining of comedy and thriller better in his novel "The Gun Seller" in no small part by cutting the wise-cracks from the action scenes. (Paradoxically real life can produce unbelievable dialogue: George McDonald Fraser notes in his memoir of the war in Burma, "Quartered Safe Out Here", that he once heard a comrade shout, after having been shot, "They got me the dirty rats!", something, he says, that despite being true was so unbelieveable he would never have used it in a work of fiction.)

These points aside, the plot is compelling and satisfyingly twisty, drawing upon the roots of modern crime fiction: Dan carries with him an echo of Chandler's Marlowe as a fundamentally honourable man, a contemporary knight errant, in a corrupt metropolis. The jokes are generally very good indeed. And many of the characters, particularly, I thought, Zeb and Simon, well drawn. It also highlights the courage and experiences of UN peace-keeping forces (Dan is a veteran of the operation in Lebanon), something rarely touched upon in popular culture, and something that deserves greater attention.

And the book kept me up at night so I could finish it and find out how the various strands resolve: one should never quibble too much about a book that can do that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 June 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you know the Artemis Fowl books, then you will probably already love Eoin Colfer's authorial voice - witty, tongue in cheek and downright funny at times. This is a more grown version!
If you dont know Arty then you should get acquainted with both them and this book! I read this quickly and I laughed out loud several times - really irritating to those unfortunates not able to read the book....!

Dan McEvoy is an ex Irish UN Peacekeeper who has been through "therapy", a rough childhood and "escaped" to America. The story is set in New Jersey - rather than the more obvious New York or Chicago and Colfer enjoys some sly digs at those cities, and the genre of the gangster novel. There are a raft of characters, most of whom are cracked and many of whom rapidly descend to wrong doing of one sort or another. In Dan - a balding, middle aged "hardman", with a number of anxieties and tenderness oozing from every pore, Colfer has another great character - complex, sympathetic and trained for most things! I hope we see more of him.

This is a great book to while away the hours, very enjoyable - even the encounter with the Rottweiler (one of my favourite moments!) and I will definitely not look at Lasagne in the same way... but I am trying hard not to reveal plot details - that involves, drugs, murder, corruption and mental illness... what more could one want!! I would definietly recommend this one. A great holiday read....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Whenever an established author tackled a new genre I tend to get a little antsy. Not because I don't think that they can't write in it but mainly I feel that their departure could ruin my enjoyment of the established series. Whilst this is different to the other books that Eion has written (it's an adult crime story rather that Young Adult) I was a little worried that his style of humour as action wouldn't translate too well to this genre but rather than suffer for it, he plays to his strengths.

Within this story is a wonderful way with words, a lead character who suffers from flashbacks and whilst at time it takes a poke at the crime genre, it's a story that will entertain the reader as they make their way through the pages. All in this was a story that I had a hard time putting down and whilst a major departure, it was one that I was pleased that I took the time to read and I'll look forward to future instalments to see exactly what Eion has planned next. Great stuff.
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