October 06, 2011

BOOKS: Plugged, Eoin Colfer (2011)

After much success with his Artemis Fowl series of novels for young adults (which I've not read), Colfer makes the move to adult fiction with this oddball crime caper.

(We should note that, jacket text to the contrary, this isn't Colfer's first venture into adult fiction; there was his unfortunate attempt to cash in on the corpse of Douglas Adams by continuing the Hitchhiker's Guide series. But the less said of that, the better. Let's just say that this is Colfer's first adult novel based entirely on his own ideas.)

Colfer gives us a comic crime caper about Daniel MacEvoy, an Irish ex-military man working as a bouncer in a sleazy New Jersey strip club. When people around Daniel start dying -- the stripper he has a not-so-secret thing for, his hair transplant doctor/best friend -- he finds himself suspect #1, and is forced to use his military training in ingenious ways to get out of the mess.

The tone is a bit offputting; Colfer's trying to make Daniel a lovable thug, sort of a more violent version of Donald Westlake's lovable thief Dortmunder. But the amped-up violence doesn't mix well with the humor, and Daniel comes across as just a bit too unstable; I felt like he wasn't resorting to violence in desperation so much as he was happy to have an excuse for it.

Not a horrible book, and it has some nice moments along the way, but it never really takes off. I'll be curious to see if Colfer gets any better with his next effort, or if this is really the best he can do.

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