Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb
Hmmm? by Simon Plaster is the latest brilliant satirical novel the author has written featuring small-town reporter, Henrietta, who lives in Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Hmmm?, Henrietta looks for love in all the wrong places, instead finding intrigue. She also finds many things that make her, and the reader, go “Hmmm?” in a novel that has many LOL passages, along with….a murder investigation, or, at any rate, a facsimile of one, conducted by one of the many humorous and larger-than-life characters in the novel.
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Hmmm? has a large cast of characters, revisiting many from past novels in the series, like Henrietta’s overly-dramatic mom, Wynona Sue, who works at the Best Little Hair House. She is looking for the love of her life, but she has an unrealistic set of expectations and instead has a series of flings with men like Professor Alexander Lehough, who is an expert on insects, was a star witness in a trial in a previous novel in the series, Tick, and has a split personality. His other personality is Zander, and Lehough often has conversations with him.
Alexander keeps Zander subdued by drinking something from a “brown bottle of powerful potion that would put the nagging pest to sleep,” but Wynona Sue overhears her lover talking to “Zander,” or at least someone she mistakes as being “Zander.” The person is really Charlene Lehough, Alexander’s estranged wife, who left him for a new lover, Virgil Carter. She heard that Alexander won a Nobel Prize, however, so left Virgil knocked out and duct taped in Texas to return and try to get her hands on some of money that comes with winning a Nobel Prize.
Alexander does not want anything to do with Charlene, anymore, and would much rather be with Wynona Sue. Wynona Sue convinces herself that Charlene must be the “Zander” Alexander has been having conversations with, though at times, she thinks that maybe “Zander” is a male who Alexander has been having a homosexual relationship with.
Wynona Sue hires a local resident, Max Morgan, who fancies himself to be a private detective, to find out more information about who Zander is, so she will know, once and for all, the truth. “Maximo,” a big fan of novels involving private detectives, decides to become one, himself, and his exploits and misadventures adds even more humor to this highly entertaining novel..
Hmmm? by Simon Plaster is subtitled “A Tale of Mysterious Murrr-Derrr and a Girl.” It is a novel that is, in part, slapstick comedy and in part, it draws from film noir movies and hardboiled detective novels. Hmmm? is a novel that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book, though I highly recommend reading the other novels in the series, as well, because they are all gems that are well worth reading.