I’ve been a fan of Eoin Colfer’s books for years. Artemis Fowl was the bomb, and I’ve read most of his other books too along the way. All of Colfer’s books I had read to this point all had one thing in common–they were aimed squarely at older kids/younger teens. Young Adults. The YA crowd. I knew Plugged was going to be different, mind you: the tagline alone told me that much. “If you loved Artemis Fowl, it’s time to grow up.” What I did not expect was this level of profanity and general sexual innuendo. Honestly, I might have been very turned off by the disconnect, had I been reading it as a paper or even digital copy. But there was a redeeming factor here that saved the experience for me–I was listening to it as an audiobook. Why does that make a difference? Because the book is told in first-person format, and the reader (John Keating) has an Irish accent to match the character’s. Why does hearing the aforementioned profanity in an Irish accent soften its blow, at least so far as my tolerance is concerned? Not really sure, but it does.
Daniel McEvoy is not having a good week. Life has been a bit rough in general, honestly, between his stints in the Middle East as a UN Peacekeeper, his abusive childhood, and the general lack of funds that finds him working the door of a sleazy nightclub in Jersey, but this last couple days have gone completely to hell. First, he goes to visit his friend, a sleazy unlicensed doctor operating a “pain clinic” and giving under-the-table Botox injections or hair plug operations. It is follow-up on this latter procedure that brings Daniel to the clinic this particular morning, except the doctor is out. Instead, he finds a knife-toting enforcer for the local wannabe-mob boss. This encounter does not end well for either–the enforcer has a key stuck in his jugular, and McEvoy has a target on his back. After cleaning up the evidence, McEvoy heads to work to find that his not-quite-girlfriend is dead in the parking lot with a hole in her forehead. Who killed her? And are the two events connected? McEvoy has no idea, but he’s determined to find out. Cops crooked and straight, a sleazy lawyer with a side business dealing drugs, a mob boss named “Irish Mike Madden” who’s never been to Ireland, and Daniel’s crazy-but-attractive upstairs neighbor….all these and more come into play as obstacles or distractions as McEvoy attempts to discover who killed his girl.
The good news? This is a lot of fun. Not really a surprise, given the fact that Colfer has been crafting crazy adventures for us to read for years. Which brings us to the bad news….you assume that the two disparate threads of things going to hell are connected–not because of anything that is said, necessarily, although McEvoy assumes the same thing, but because that is how we’ve been conditioned to think about these murder mysteries. Castle, Bones, any detective book ever written, they all start with a murder and something that doesn’t make sense until you figure it all out. That’s what draws you in. So naturally, you assume the missing doctor and the dead girlfriend are connected. Minor spoiler: they aren’t. I dislike spoilers, but in this case I think that knowing that upfront will improve your appreciation of the book by lowering your expectations that everything will somehow tie together. Let me say once again, this book is incredibly entertaining. Don’t let this one structural flaw prevent you from reading it.
Content: R-rated language throughout. A good deal of violence, occasionally gory. Sexual innuendo, mild to moderately explicit and nearly always humorous.