Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review of Screwed by Eoin Colfer (Headline, 2013)

After years of working the doors of night clubs, ex-Sergeant Dan McEvoy is preparing to open his own in Cloisters, New Jersey.  Life is just about on an even keel.  He’s a delusional girlfriend who thinks he’s her long-lost husband, a lecherous best friend who practices backstreet plastic surgery, and a truce with Mike Madden, a local mobster, so long as Mike’s mother remains alive.  But then lightening strikes, Mrs Madden is toast and the local boss is back on the war path.  To help pay off his debt, McEvoy agrees to be the middle man between Madden and a Manhattan-based boss.  But before he can deliver the bearer bonds he’s picked up by two local cops who have other plans for him.  A few hours later and McEvoy is the target of two sets of mobsters, the police and his own family, and is a viral hit on a porn site.  It’s taking all skills as a veteran soldier and a lot of luck to stay alive, especially given his aversion to killing those who are trying to kill him.

Screwed is a screwball noir that rattles along a quick clip, with McEvoy pinging from one dose of slapstick violence and gallows humour to another.  Colfer has an engaging voice and the narrative is witty and sassy, with a number of laugh out loud moments.  As with all comic crime capers the plot is a little ridiculous and the characters lean towards caricature, but that’s a key part of what makes them work.  Colfer sets out a series of quirky plot strands then weaves together to form a story full of collisions and ricochets, whilst also filling in more of McEvoy’s family back story.  As I noted with respect to the first book, Plugged, McEvoy seemed a little out of key - he’s meant to be scarred with deep psychological flaws courtesy of an abusive family upbringing and his time as a peacekeeper in the Lebanon, but he seems way too together, clear thinking and assured in his own violent abilities to fit that mould.  Moreover, some of the humour seems a little forced at times.  Nevertheless, Screwed is good rollicking fun and an enjoyable second book in the series.


col2910 said...

Hmmm.....seems maybe a notch or so down from the first, but I'll give it a go. Reading some other Irish crime fiction at the minute, though the name of it escapes me....ha ha!

Rob Kitchin said...

Col, I think if you liked the first book, you'll like this one as well. It's more of the same. Rob