Being more than a little annoyed with Eoin Colfer, because he wrote the unnecessary and (by me) unwanted posthumous sixth book in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, I had no intention of reading his first non Adams-related foray into adult writing. But I saw this review and heard Colfer discuss the book on Australian radio and thought I might be being a bit harsh to excommunicate the man based on one poor decision. This turned out to be a good choice on my part.
Ex-pat Irishman Danny McEvoy is 42 years old, losing his hair and works as what the Americans call a doorman (and we’d call a bouncer here in Oz) at a seedy New Jersey casino. When his almost-girlfriend Connie is killed Danny is not only one of several suspects but he becomes embroiled in the case which, quickly, spirals into surreal territory as the investigating cops get violent with each other and all manner of mayhem ensues. At the same time as this is going on Danny’s best friend, cut-price hair-transplant ‘doctor’ Zeb Kronski goes missing from his ‘clinic’ and takes up residence in Danny’s head. Although he wants to find out who killed Connie he needs to find Zeb because he’s half-way through installing (that can’t be the right word) hair transplants into Danny’s balding scalp (and he’d also like to get Ghost Zeb out of his head).
Plugged is funny. Fast-paced, crisply written and brimming with great dialogue it is, above all these, funny. It’s narrated in the first-person by Danny so we see the whole, crazy world from Danny’s rather lonely, somewhat jaded, and follicle-obsessed perspective and the best of the humour comes from Danny’s take on the craziness he sees around him. Of course there are also some slapstick, almost surreal, scenes like the one where Danny has just finished bonking one of the investigating detectives when his neighbour walks in with a dish of home-baked lasagne and mistakes Danny for the husband she last saw two decades ago. Most of these scenes offer a refreshing take on the kinds of things you might expect from this genre (crime kingpins, drug dealers etc) and even though slapstick stuff is not my favourite kind of humour it still had me chuckling on multiple occasions.
As well as the rapidly unravelling current-day events we get some insights into Danny’s former life as a young man with a violent father then as a peace keeper with the Irish army in Lebanon (where he first met Zeb). I forgot to make a note the time code for the quote so can’t easily find it in the audio book now but when Danny first mentions the Irish army’s peacekeeping role he says, in his thoroughly deadpan way, something along the lines of ‘you would use the Irish to keep the peace wouldn’t you, given they’ve such an excellent record of cooperation between communities on their own island’. You can’t help but laugh (well I couldn’t help it anyway which saw me revert to crazy giggling lady on the bus status).
I seem to be drawn to crime capers lately, I think they offer me the same light “I don’t have to take this seriously but I can still have a great read’ escape that cosy mysteries used to do (before there were so many not very good ones crowding the space and I kind of gave up on them). I can appreciate that the genre isn’t for everyone but if it is for you, or you’re wondering if it might be, then Plugged is a strongly recommended book. The plot is, of course, outlandish but it does hang together in the context of the book and the laugh count is way above average. If you like audio books then definitely track down the version read by Patrick Moy as he’s a dreamboat of a reader and I find first-person narratives always work particularly well in audio format.
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Plugged has been reviewed at The View from the Blue House
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My rating 4/5
Author website there’s no point in linking to it, Plugged is, oddly, not mentioned AT ALL
Narrator Patrick Moy
Publisher Headline Digital 
ISBN n/a downloaded from audible.com
Length 7 hours 11 minutes
Book Series standalone
Source I bought it