The book is unusual because it’s funny, although Colfer says he originally tried to write it straight. “He was initially very much the implacable hero, in the Lee Marvin type, out for revenge, no messing around. But I couldn’t sustain it. It just felt like I was trying to write someone else’s book. Then one joke got in, and then another one. Initially the character wasn’t the brightest guy, but then I started to leak in a bit of psychology and he became more knowing and aware of his own foibles, so I had to go back and change it all and make it much funnier.” He is full of ideas for future adventures, but adds: “It’s a very fickle world. The public might decide there’s already a funny crime writer so we don’t want you.”All of which suggests that PLUGGED won’t be entirely unlike the Parker novels rewritten Carl Hiassen - I haven’t read it yet, but that should be rectified in the next couple of weeks or so (the book is officially published on May 12).
The line that jarred, though - ‘The book is unusual because it’s funny …’ Not to cast asparagus on Susie Mesure’s research for the piece, but there are at least four Irish authors writing comedy crime fiction, among them Colin ‘Nine Inch’ Bateman, Garbhan ‘Girth Unknown’ Downey and Ruth ‘Cuddly’ Dudley Edwards. Broaden it out to the international stage, and (off the top of my head) you have the aforementioned Carl Hiassen, Christopher Brookmyre, Donald Westlake, Simon Brett, Alexander McCall Smith, Chris Ewan, Jasper Fforde, Christopher Fowler and LC Tyler. In fact, there are so many comedy writers that Bristol’s Crimefest has a dedicated ‘Last Laugh’ award.
That said, humour is a very subjective thing. I think Elmore Leonard is a very funny writer. Sara Gran’s forthcoming CITY OF THE DEAD is a comic masterpiece. James Patterson, of course, is the funniest writer alive.
Anyway, niggling aside, I’m pretty sure that (a) PLUGGED will be very funny, and (b) the public will find room in their hearts for another funny crime writer, especially one who’s earned his licks with the Artemis Fowl series.
Over to you, folks. Any comic crime writers I’ve missed?