If Raymond Chandler married Elmore Leonard and engaged Carl Hiassen to be a surrogate mother, Irish expat Daniel McEvoy would be the progeny. Oh, grow up! Such things are possible in this zany crime caper.
McEvoy now owns Slotz, a New Jersey casino, along with partner Jason Dyal of the "Beefcake Brigade." Seedy Slotz has an extreme makeover and takes on a "colorful" new name. Jason redefines Happy Hour and business is booming, but McEvoy has a "Celtic sixth sense that only predicts bad stuff. Maybe that old maxim the luck of the Irish doesn't apply to me." He realizes "it's always darkest before the dawn unless there's an eclipse, if you'll excuse me mangling my metaphors."
There's a long character list of questionable friends. Detective Ronelle Deacon, "a special friend without benefits," is now a lieutenant. "Ronnie has more than confidence, she has anger hanging over her like a heat shimmer." Delusional Sophia Delano is another friend without benefits, and her pining for long-lost husband Carmine makes him seem real. Zeb Kronski "is a douche cosmetic surgeon" and now has a dubious "medical license through some outrageous wheeler dealing involving a fat envelope." And military psychiatrist Simon Moriarty dispenses "cyber psy" via social media and McEvoy's shrunken head atop his "Chewbacca looking [expletive deleted]" body, but the shrink's tweets arrive suspiciously as McEvoy works things out for himself.
Then there are those less friendly. Corrupt cops Krieger and Fortz are "the wrong arm of the law" and videotape McEvoy's "interrogation" session. The closest "potato eating gangster" Irish Mike Madden has come to Ireland is a St. Patrick's Day parade and "is as dumb as moss." Evelyn Costello, McEvoy's "addiction issues" aunt, is only four years older than he is, and there's his younger-by-a-decade third step-grandmother Edit Vikander-Costello: "She pronounces Edit to rhyme with Michael Jackson's Beat It." McEvoy reflects, "Those are violent people but I can't deny that [I'm] the common denominator in all their twisted scenarios."
Irish Mike requests McEvoy deliver a package to college-boy mob boss Edward Shea, protected by his "nom-de-goon," Freckles. Predictably, McEvoy gets into the thick of things he didn't know existed. Horrors! Could this be the last zany Irish expat crime caper?
Amongst randy humor are philosophy zingers, like a Happy Meal with sugarcoated broccoli: "The key to staying alive until you die is to not get yourself killed." More ponderable is: "Soldiers have this mindset that they gotta be tough as nails 24/7. So we dampen down all the poison in our chests, forging a rancid cannonball to be fired at a later date, possibly at people who don't deserve it."
Eoin ("It's pronounced Owen!") Colfer, the international bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, sets a bawdy theme in his second hilarious crime novel, following PLUGGED. For sensitive eyes, there's a minefield of quasi f-bombs, along with the real thing.
Incredible imagination won't suffice to solve this spectacular whodunit, a five-star story in the vein of Dave Barry that has more twists and turns than a California cloverleaf. Tell everyone you know to get SCREWED. Better still, buy a copy of it.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy