Tracks: A Curious Tale of Who’s Her Daddy? by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Who is Henrietta Hebert’s biological father? An answer to the question is a conundrum that could be illuminated when Henrietta’s mother finds DNA evidence that supposedly belongs to the mystery man, and this is the impetus behind Tracks: A Curious Tale of Who’s Her Daddy? Henrietta’s mother hires a private detective, Max Morgan, to find out the truth. Max is not only an admirer of hard-boiled detective tv shows and crime novels but also an avid listener to The Fat Man, a popular detective drama radio program in the 1940s and early 1950s. In American history, the show lasted for six seasons. Max fashions himself after the detective in the title role. A marvelous beginning to an entertaining story with a number of complications arising as the detective becomes more embroiled in the speculative paternity case. More than one man is a suspect for possibly fathering Henrietta, and melodrama surrounds each man. Purchase Here.

Simon Plaster pulls readers into this delightful story from the first page and keeps their interest right up until the final page. It takes place over a time period of five days in Henryetta, Oklahoma. A good balance of noteworthy, pivotal, and lighthearted moments lends additional meaning to momentous subject matters, such as political treachery and subterfuge, differing views and aspects involving paternity, and ethical issues in both sperm donation and DNA testing. All of these topics are woven together with amazing skill revealing a seamless story from beginning to end. Plaster also beautifully shows how extenuating circumstances and individuals’ subsequent reactions to them can impact a person’s life in positive and/or negative ways.

Plaster’s skillful use of amusing and imaginative metaphors and eclectic dialogue provides readers with wonderful visuals of scenes and characters. Each of the characters is imbued with a unique voice that suits their roles and makes their distinct personalities stand out to readers. The characters act from believable motivations, and each one’s actions are pertinent to not only moving the plot forward but also to the final outcome of the story. Plaster’s stylistically complex writing techniques along with witty and clever wordplay adds to the overall enjoyable reading experience. Readers will appreciate and enjoy the fictional excerpts of Fat Man episodes that wonderfully tie into the storyline. The musical interludes scattered throughout the book are not only fitting but also humorous in the scenes in which they appear. Plaster has written a great twist ending that surprises readers and totally fits in with this intriguing story that will stick in readers’ minds long after they have finished reading it.


GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Henrietta, a former newspaper reporter, answers a want ad and is given the opportunity to play amateur sleuth when she is hired by erstwhile lawyer Leroy “Lero” O’Rourke to help in his surveillance case involving the prominent DeGrasso family. What starts out as a simple case turns complicated when Henrietta and Lero find themselves in the middle of a high-stakes competition. The race is on as to who might take over the reins of the family owned lube business when the ninety-five-year old family matriarch, Nanette DeGrasso, gives up her position of leadership either due to retirement or death. There are two main contenders for assuming control of the Oklahoma City based company. Charles DeGrasso, Nanette’s son, considers himself not only ready to undertake the role of Chief Executive Officer but also firmly believes that he has been the rightful heir apparent for decades. However, Joe DeGrasso, Nanette’s nephew, is of the opinion that he is a better choice as the successor, and he has already launched a business venture that could impact the company’s bottom line if customers embrace it. With the venture off to a disappointing start, will sales revenue increase? What risks, both personally and professionally, are the two competitors willing to take in order to achieve their dreams of running the family business? As Henrietta and Lero get pulled deeper into the intense family rivalry, how much will the stumbling blocks they encounter hinder their efforts to bring the case to a satisfying conclusion? Purchase Here.

Anyone who has read a story penned by Simon Plaster will recognize his unique writing style and how each of his exceptional stories is imbued with its own unmistakable personality. In Greezers: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall, the focus is on the effect greed and a sense of entitlement have on people to obtain what they desire and how far legally and ethically they will go to make it happen. Plaster does an excellent job of showing the discord caused by external and internal pressures, in both serious and humorous ways, which occurs between individuals faced with life changing events. The skillful use of literary devices and sensory language help readers connect with the characters and the world they inhabit. All of the characters are true to real life, and each one has their own distinct personality type. Also, readers get an inside look into the behavioral reactions of the characters to the situations in which they find themselves.

Plaster has once again written an intriguing and captivating story involving human interest topics that pull readers in from the beginning and hold their attention until the last page. Readers will appreciate the “Grease Monkey Business” bulletins that tie in wonderfully with the story and keep readers apprised of the public’s view of the DeGrasso family members and their owned and operated business. One of the many engrossing scenes, which reference works of literature, movies, and noteworthy individuals and are pertinent to the storyline, is one in particular where Plaster compares the romantic and competitive relationships between some family members in the novel to the roles people played in a medieval work of literature. The scattering of musical interludes harmonizes with the story in a befitting manner. Greezers is a terrific addition to Plaster’s collection of works.


Reprise: A Memorious Tale of Things Present by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Reprise, by Simon Plaster, continues his series of humorous and satirical novels about Henrietta Hebert, who has gone from being an investigative reporter to now being a Private Eye. She figures that being an investigative reporter is not that much different, in that she digs up the dirt on the people she writes about, just like detectives discover all sorts of secrets about whoever they are investigating, and she might as well get the credit for solving a crime or mystery that some inept detective would claim. otherwise. Purchase Here.

The trouble is that, at the start of Reprise, Henrietta is not getting any bites. That is, not until one day, a fateful knocking at her door and buzzing at her doorbell launches her new career. When Henrietta answers the door, she sees a woman standing there who introduces herself as Dr. Gloria Stern, and she explains that she has been searching for Wynona Sue Lehough, namely, Henrietta’s mother. Though Dr. Stern admits that the last time she saw Henrietta’s mother was three years ago, because she is “downsizing her practice,” she suddenly is concerned about Wynona Sue’s whereabouts and wants Henrietta, listed on old paperwork as Wynona’ Sue’s “next of kin,” to find the so-called missing woman, who has been without her meds for a period of years by then. Unbeknownst to Dr. Stern, right at that very moment, Henrietta’s mother is trying to reach her via her daughter’s “eye-phone.”

Dr. Stern has some rather potentially serious news to tell Henrietta. Based on her knowledge of Wynona Sue’s somewhat flighty and unstable mental state, Dr. Stern says that she believes Wynona Sue likely is responsible for having killed her husband, Henrietta’s step-father, Professor Alexander Lehough. As it’s also been reported that Wynona Sue fired a gun into the floorboards of her house, when her husband of five years plus was underneath the house tending to some of his insect “pets,” that idea is not, in theory, beyond the realm of possibility.

As with the other novels featuring Henrietta Hebert in Simon Plaster’s ongoing series, much of the fun and humor of Reprise comes from the intertwining complicated plots, romantic, or imagined romantic, entanglements, and numerous recurring characters within its pages. Another of the many fun aspects about Simon Plaster’s novels is that he incorporates song lyrics into his plots, with quotes from the songs relevant to the story interspersed throughout.

Reprise follows suit, the very title of it being a musical term for, as the author puts it,: “a partial or abbreviated repetition or reiteration of material with added ornamentation to decorate a line of harmony: sometimes including contrapuntal compositions called fugues, in which short melodies or phrases are introduced by one part and successively taken up by others in interweaving parts such as common in doo-wop songs.”

Besides quoting from songs such as John Cougar Mellancamp’s “Jack and Diane,” and Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” the author utilizes a radio announcer who repeats the words “Remember when….” followed by his introducing an oldie but goodie like “Duke of Earl.” The theme of repetition for helping to recall memories is one that Plaster uses in the plot of Reprise, as well, bringing into the mix of the present-day plotline several memorable characters from past novels in the series. The book is divided up into five distinct sections, or “Fugues.” These Fugues aid in conveying the repetition theme, and also serve to catch up any readers who might not be familiar with the past books in the series.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of action and romantic entanglements in the present-day plotline of Reprise to satisfy anyone who enjoys reading light-hearted satirical novels. If you are already a fan of the Henrietta Hebert series by Simon Plaster or a newbie to it, you’re sure to get an immense kick out of reading Reprise. I highly recommend you check it out, today, and the other novels in this hugely entertaining series!


Versus: A Tale of Zero-Sum Contestation by Simon Plaster

Book Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Henrietta has embarked on a new career as a private detective working for FISSION FYI, which is located in Oklahoma City and owned and managed by Leroy “Lero” O’Rourke. Lero is busy with opposition research involving the Democratic and Republican candidates running for the office of the Governor of Oklahoma, so he assigns a pending acrimonious divorce case between Lilith Crammer and Adam Crammer to Henrietta. Randolph McCoy and Andrew Hatfield, who are senior partners in different law firms, represent the Crammers. They have known each other since elementary school, and the men thrive on a competitive relationship. McCoy and Hatfield adhere to opposing viewpoints in their political ideologies, and each one is a staunch supporter of their representative political party gubernatorial candidate. Along with them clashing politically and being on opposite sides in the divorce case, they are also in the midst of playing in an annual golf tournament. Both McCoy and Hatfield are not only determined to be the winner, but each man is also willing to stoop to deceitful and underhanded behavior for the purpose of one-upmanship. As Henrietta and Lero make headway in their endeavors, they are disrupted in their respective jobs by the ungentlemanly competition between McCoy and Hatfield. What will be the final outcome for any objectives set by Henrietta, Lero, McCoy, and Hatfield? Purchase Here.

Simon Plaster’s use of sensory language and literary devices conveys a vivid picture in readers’ minds and allows them to feel like they are right there in each scene experiencing what the characters are going through. Each character is instilled with their own unique qualities, and the distinctive dialogue of each notable character matches their vocal personality traits. Comparisons of characters in this wildly entertaining story to ones in movies and tv shows add to the overall visual impact experienced by readers. The scattering of strong language in the story fits in with the characters. Plaster has included song lyrics in a number of scenes, and they tie in marvelously with the text. The references to Stephen Potter, who wrote a book about gamesmanship, are very appropriate to the story.

Versus: A Tale of Zero-Sum Contestation is a great story in which Simon Plaster shows the disparity and distrust between political parties, the effects on the personal and professional lives of those involved in an all-or-nothing competition that has spanned decades, how stories imbued with truth and fiction can lead to unintended consequences, the lack of business integrity and its fallout, the negative and positive effects of competitiveness, the difficulties of separating the truth from lies, and the beneficial use of humor in some situations. Readers will also enjoy the political claptrap skillfully woven into this story. Plaster does an excellent job of grabbing readers’ attention from the beginning and keeping them invested until the end.


Wind: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Wind: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors is an entertaining book of political and social satire that focuses on the conflict between religious beliefs and science, along with human rights issues. The chapters are split into sections that coincide with the six days of the biblical account of creation. Genesis 1 has been assigned as part of the reading material for a western literature course at the Oklahoma Public Education Center (OPEC) in Oklahoma City. Should this be allowed or is it unconstitutional? Are the Censorship threats from the American Civil Liberties Union a real concern? Purchase Here.

The story centers around Henrietta Hebert, Professor Owen Hatteras, Lawrence Farrell, and William B. Ryan, although all of the supporting characters play essential roles. Henrietta wants to rejuvenate her journalism career by furthering her education. She enrolls at OPEC and takes on the task of writing for the school newspaper under the tutelage of Professor Hatteras. Owen adamantly disagrees with the story of biblical creation but changes his stance in pursuit of his own agenda which ties into the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Farrell and Ryan, candidates in a District Attorney’s race, are on opposite ends of the political spectrum when it comes to whether or not Genesis 1 being assigned as reading material in a public school violates the constitution.

Diametrically opposing viewpoints of a highly controversial issue are deftly presented in a skillful fashion by Simon Plaster. He wonderfully depicts the extreme variance among people’s beliefs in delightful and serious ways that capture readers’ attention. The complex and intriguing commentary keeps readers invested in following the story to the end. Readers will appreciate that Plaster does not skew his writing toward a particular side in the never-ending dispute on whether or not the teaching of creationism violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause. Plaster also includes interesting views about famous books and their possible ties to social issues, such as feminism and populism. In particular, I appreciate Plaster’s artfulness, which includes bold musical notation, of illustrating the reactions of a church congregation and protestors on both sides of the heated debate.

Laugh out loud moments, clever word play, sardonic comments, ambiguous phrases, similes, metaphors, perseverance in the face of adversity, biblical quotes to back up beliefs, and sharp-witted jokes directed at politicians add to the overall appeal of this ingeniously titled riveting satire. Plaster keeps the tension steadily building until it culminates into a momentous and contentious public event that leads to a thought-provoking ending.