Colfer presents a second glorious episode (after Plugged) in the violent, hilarious, and just plain bizarre life of Irish army vet and Jersey casino owner Dan McEvoy. McEvoy's life takes a turn for the worse one morning when his back-alley plastic surgeon friend Zeb calls with bad news. Their hold over small-time gangster Irish Mike is gone, and now Mike is keeping Zeb captive to force McEvoy to a meeting. Before the day is done, McEvoy is kidnapped by bent cops who threaten to kill him after featuring him in online porn, meets his step-grandmother, gets caught in the middle of an organized-crime power struggle, and discovers that his only partially sane near-girlfriend Sofia has brained his long-lost aunt with a hammer. These events are tied together with the sort of laughs brought on by the ridiculous, and augmented with inventive profanity and a sniper ninja for good measure. VERDICT While this salty novel is not the book to hand fans of Colfer's YA "Artemis Fowl" series, noir devotees with a twisted since of humor will eat it up.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids
This comic thriller sends a hard-luck New Jersey club owner tumbling through a mad, mad world of assorted nuts. When Dan McEvoy, who debuted in Colfer's Plugged (2011), awakens at the start of this second, often wacky installment, he's cozied up to Sofia Delano, who's on the lam from her abusive husband, Carmine. Bipolar, schizophrenic and heavily medicated, Sofia sometimes thinks Dan is Carmine. But she's beautiful and they've swooned over Amelie, so Dan stays by her side. He leaves her momentarily, though, when he's called to task by Mike Madden, the Irish boss of Cloisters, the New Jersey village where McEvoy runs a dumpy club called Slotz. Madden had assigned Dan and a friend to guard his mother, so when the mother dies after lightning strikes her ski pole on the slopes, they're in big trouble. But Madden says McEvoy can absolve himself by delivering a package of bearer bonds to a guy named Shea in SoHo. En route to Manhattan, McEvoy is detained by two cops, who cuff and then taser him. A resourceful McEvoy shakes them by deftly wielding a large dildo (don't ask). Gathering his wits over French toast at Norma's in Manhattan, McEvoy encounters his grandfather's fourth wife, Edit Vikander Costello, who brings the alarming news that Evelyn Costello, his mother's baby sister, is missing. McEvoy heads to Shea's SoHo lair, convinced he's stepping into a setup. A tricky chase ensues with McEvoy rivaling Bob Hope's speed at rapid-fire wisecracks. McEvoy, however, is not entirely flippant. Among his frequent digressions are biting, unsettling memories of home life, including one trenchant passage in which he is handed a copy of The Fountainhead. At McEvoy's core is a melancholy soul who believes "[t]he Universe cannot suffer happiness for long…." Colfer's work is entertaining and expertly judged. His terse, muscular prose makes even a car chase seem like a new idea, and his McEvoy is a durable raconteur.