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
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.
on 19 May 2011
Ever since Artemis Fowl, I have waited for Eoin Colfer to write an exclusively adult novel. It was worth the wait. The expected words are "unputdownable", "page turner" and "read in one sitting". Not one of them is wrong. This book is a joy. Elegantly written with a sense of humour that is missing in so much modern crime fiction. Don't make me wait another 10 years.
on 13 May 2011
KIDS' writer Eoin Colfer made his bones (not to mention a few million quid) with the Artemis Fowl series of teen crime thrillers.
Now he's growing up fast...well, sort of. He was picked to pen a sequel to the Hitch-hikers Guide `trilogy' of the late great Douglas Adams, and did a fine job of it.
With Plugged he gets grittier still, following the ups-and-mostly-downs of nightclub bouncer Dan, who finds himself tangling with extremely nasty types from the New Jersey drug-dealing trade.
Colfer's humour keeps the ball rolling, bringing to mind past stars like Joseph Wambaugh.
A fine bit of fun for a long journey.
on 3 March 2015
In my teenage years I loved the Artemis Fowl series, and I continued to keep up with each release until the series' climax in 2012. The books were easy to read, they seemed well researched and planned and never failed to make me laugh.
With that in mind I was extremely excited to read Colfer's foray into adult fiction and in all honesty I was quite disappointed with his resulting attempt. I completed the book in 2 days, more to finish it than out of actual curiosity.
The protagonist (Dan McEvoy) is quite likeable but his background story is a little unconvincing with new details introduced conveniently throughout the book, almost as an afterthought. In contrast to his Artemis Fowl series this book reads as if it was written without much planning, almost organically as Colfer imagined up his several plot lines, which intersect again in quite unconvincing ways. There's nothing worse in a work of fiction than when a protagonist's problems are all solved within a chapter or two, without much explanation and in unrealistic ways (those who read the book will understand!). The criminals (and actually even McEvoy) seem like unprofessional buffoons who owe most of their success to dumb luck or incompetent policing.
I've rated the book 3 stars as it was still mildly entertaining to read and I love Eoin Colfer as an author, I just wish that this book had more semblance to the style, clever plot ideas and comprehensiveness of the Artemis Fowl series.
Despite being disappointed with this book I will most likely read the sequel, just to see if it's an improvement on this effort! If you are looking for a reincarnation of the Artemis Fowl series, I don't think that you will find it here.
I can't say whether this will please Colfer's fans because I haven't read his kids' books. Taken purely on its own merits, Plugged mixes humour and darkness in a way that will delight some readers and antagonise others. As a fan of Raymond Chandler, I loved it.
The plot is implausible, but that goes for most intricate thrillers. What's important is that Colfer allows the reader to suspend his disbelief as the body count rises and the plot twists carry the story in unexpected directions.
Much of the humour comes from the hero's unmistakably Irish take on events, so he stands slightly apart from the American setting and bridges the reader's own separation from the culture where it takes place. Dan's sensitivity over his hair loss is a running theme, and his obsession with that keeps him from becoming too immersed in the world of crime that tries to suck him in.
Colfer's style is light and easy, with plenty of witty banter to keep the story bright and making for an easy, but not trivial, read.
on 17 April 2012
I have not read Eoin Colfers other books. If I understand them correctly they are children books so to compare this one to them would be of limited interest.
"Plugged" is one of those books that are very easy to read. It does not demand anything from you. You just go with the flow. It is not complicated and for once there is no extreme terrorists or super villains involved, just ordinary crooks and ordinary citizens. With this Colfer has managed to create a very funny, interesting and rapid read that is perfect to relax with when you take a break from working on your CV or the next Nobel price. I hope he will continue with more books with Daniel McEvoy as the main character. I will definitely buy them.
on 6 November 2011
Let me start off by saying I have a degree in English Lit and Creative Writing; therefore, I've read a lot of great books and spent most of my life writing stories.
The AF series couldn't be topped- even if it was a "children" series. The AF novels still remain some of the best books I have ever read. However, Plugged was far from disappointing. The character, Daniel, is solid and 3D. He jumps off the page, due to his flaws and likes. He can be pictured clearly in the mind's eye. I think Plugged would make a great movie because of this.
The other characters are also excellent. They are all well developed and I couldn't call any of them boring.
Like in AF, there are so many twists and loops that it keeps you guessing. Instead of magic, we have intelligence and guns. Colfer's humour is, as always, spot on. I took this book on holiday and read it in two sittings. I read it again recently and I gobbled it up once again.
For those of you who think this isn't an adult's book...would you let your children read about murder, sex, drugs and war? If so, I suggest you seek help.
Personally, I hope this gets a sequel. 5/5
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.
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.