By Eoin Colfer
Headline/Hachette India Rs 499
Being a dyed in the wool (Or feather as the case might be) fan of the Artemis Fowl series, and a greater fan of the crime novel genre, Plugged reeled me from the first chapter itself. Plugged, metaphoric perhaps, for the hair plugs, the protagonist, Daniel, a New Jersey bouncer at a club has just gotten to beef up his hairline, is the story of how a man can get caught in a quagmire of crimes he did not commit, and his struggle to get to the bottom of the whoddunit.
Hitchcockian? You bet. To start with the protagonist is not a spotless fellow himself. He brings to the tale his background as an ex-soldier, (now where have I read that before in this genre?) having served with the Irish army, and with peacekeeping operations throughout the world. As his badges of honour, he still bears shrapnel in his back and a cool attitude to any form of belligerence which serves him well in his current profession.
His major concern right now though is that the plugs he’s gotten in his scalp take. The tender vanity of such a beefy action man protagonist in an era which has embraced bald action heroes like Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and Vin Diesel is rather endearing.
The tone of the narrative is sardonic, the voice a monologue. Which incidentally alerts us to the fact that no matter how gripping the action sequence, the hero will get through.
An additional voice through the narrative though is the protagonist’s friend from Lebanon, believed to be dead, who is like a voice of conscience of sorts through the story.
With the murder of his sometime girl friend, Daniel sets about trying to fit pieces of the jigsaw together and gets drawn into a world of drug dealers and detectives. Dark though the novel is, there is a redeeming comic tone which lightens it from becoming bleak and grim. The dialogue is full of gems, Daniel seems to be a constant observer in his own life, and Plugged is a book you just have to read if you, like me, call yourself a crime novel buff.