Category Archives: Humor/Satire

Case of a Puzzling Book: A Maximo Morgan Mystery by William LeRoy

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Case of a Puzzling Book: A Maximo Morgan Mystery by William LeRoy is a tricky mystery told in a uniquely creative format. Readers are immediately drawn into a rollicking adventure set off by the actions of a baldheaded stranger who goes into the Twisted Sister Coffeehouse in the small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. Popo Crowder owns the coffee shop that includes a free library book exchange with erotic novels and similar literary fiction as part of the collection. The literary works on the bookshelves are regarded with antipathy by Eppie, her twin sister. Eppie is part of a group that “edits” books of an “objectionable” nature. The differing points of view between Popo and Eppie have created a rift in the sisters’ relationship, which comes into play in the story.

When the baldheaded stranger takes Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and leaves The Same Old Story by William LeRoy in its place, Popo is perplexed as to why words and sentences are missing from pages in the book. Popo hires private detective Maximo “Max” Morgan, whose role model is private investigator Brad Runyon, a character created by novelist Dashiell Hammett. Popo asks Max to look into why The Same Old Story is the target of intentional defacing of parts of the text. Is there more to the case than meets the eye? Will Max figure out who might be responsible for the vandalism and the purpose behind it?

The Day of the Ferret by Michael Woodman

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A witty, satirical romp through the political world of the President of the United States, author Michael Woodman’s The Day of the Ferret, craftily intersects politics, intrigue, comedy, and a cast of well-devised, skewed characters into a memorable and overall humorous journey into presidential politics.

Aiming for the jugular of this specific political machine, in this case, the presidency of the United States, this is the type of book that you either dislike or love, due to its undeniable relatability to a former president (especially judging from the front cover of the book) as well as some similarities to some of his antics while in office. Personally, I loved the provocative nature of this book and found it easy to laugh at its often-comical moments.

The story starts out with a sarcastic bang as characters are brought into focus beginning with (ahem) President John Thomas Rump.   He’s narcissistic, gross and a character that you may grow to have a love-hate relationship with. Moreover, facing low approval ratings, and sexual harassment accusations Rump needs something to alter the public view of him and the answer to his political dream comes in the form of an idea from his lawyer and “yes” man Benedetto Luigi Capone, which involves an intriguing entanglement of characters.   In particular, Eve Coronata is beautiful, intelligent and a former beauty queen looking for some payback when it comes to President Rump . The exchange between the two men is hilarious and sets the tone for the rest of the book.  As well, the additional characters who follow, as the story progresses, offer their own unique personality quirks, issues, and machinations into the fray of this wholly engrossing satire.

Overall, I truly and resonantly enjoyed The Day of the Ferret. It was a gritty humorous jaunt into politics, which while reading often made me laugh or smirk. But most of all, this was a story that showcased (to me at least) the human or inhumane conditions that can be brought on by excesses of political privilege and wealth told in a dark humorous way.  Essentially, ensconced in adept storytelling, and told through characters that were gritty and often morally challenged. Overall, author Michael Woodman brought forth a well-written narrative, replete with seedy politics, plot twists and turns, affairs, backstabs and strange friendships, which ultimately made for a great adult themed read which was very entertaining. This is a definite must add to the “want to read” list.

 

 

Daughter Of Careful-ish: What Have We Learned? Nothing! by Honey Parker

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Daughter of Careful-ish: What Have We Learned? Nothing! pulls on readers’ heartstrings. It focuses on a group of young adults who are dealing with the vicissitudes of emotions from being socially isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honey Parker has created an appealing group of characters who come from diverse backgrounds. Each of the characters has been instilled with their own distinctive likes, dislikes, and idiosyncrasies. The group of friends live in New York and participate in weekly video calls filled with both amusing and serious conversations. Readers get a clear picture of what the characters are going through and the motives behind their reactions to emotionally draining circumstances. Part of the story takes place in Florida as one of the characters travels to Florida to stay with her mother, who is recuperating from an accident. The author does an excellent job of showing the different ways in which the characters deal with the stress of being sidelined when it comes to the deprivation of face-to-face contact.

Daughter of Careful-ish will resonate with readers in this fictional accounting of how people deal with an epidemic that blindsided the population. Parker has crafted a book that artfully shows how unforeseen life-altering events can affect people’s jobs and career choices, lifestyle, and social behaviors and interactions with others. The story will reach readers on a deep level and appeal to their emotions. Throughout the story, the characters are riding on a roller coaster of emotions while they are facing unprecedented challenges both in their socioeconomic status and in the effects on interpersonal relationships.

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.

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.

Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrick Backman

Reviewed by Teri Takle

If you ever read a book that was not what you expected, Anxious People could easily be the one.

You have a finite group of people: a bank robber, a real estate agent, an older couple looking for an apartment to flip into a profit, their hired person trying to help them purchase, a two-women couple with one expecting a baby soon looking for a home, an elderly neighbor, an overly-wealthy bank executive, a senior police officer, and his son, a newer police officer following in his dad’s footsteps; all deciding who should and shouldn’t buy the apartment. The exceptions are the policemen who are attempting to arrest the bank robber.

Being human, each person possesses secrets that can change how others perceive them, and no one wants their secrets revealed.

Are you confused yet?

Anxious People is funny with twists as the reader learns about each character, slowly revealing themselves to others. While always making you question what these people are doing and why.
Characterization is phenomenal in Anxious People. You quickly develop a visual person and their personality for each one allowing you to understand their motivations.

The Friends of Allan Renner by Dave J. Andrae

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dave J. Andrae’s The Friends of Allan Renner proposes an intelligent exploration of life through a multi-level, multiperspectival narrative which comes by virtue of Allan Renner’s encounters and discourse with his eclectic assortment of friends.

This book is definitively an offering of food for thought, brimming with revelations about life and people in general. This is a narrative that is provocative in its ideals and shines through its characters, their thoughts, actions and personalities during their congregations with central character Allan Renner often giving a story within a story as their backstories are also very revealing about human nature. Moreover, although this work is a fictional story, the subject matter of their encounters and conversations are realistic, important, and quite often thought provoking with topics such as astrophysics, cosmology, modern culture, racism, film making, futurism, sex, dating, technology, as well as artistic endeavors.

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

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?

GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall by Simon Plaster (Review #2)

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?

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

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Greezers is Simon Plaster’s latest and perhaps greatest satirical novel featuring the memorable character, Henrietta, named after a town in Oklahoma, Henryetta, who, previous to Greezers, had the desire to advance her journalistic career and one day earn a Pulitzer Prize. In Greezers, a tale of a chain of lube shops, fast food, and succession, Henrietta seeks a change in her life, and gets a job as an assistant to Leroy (“Lero”) O’Rourke, a private detective. She thinks that as a journalist, she has done a fair amount of deductive reasoning, and that will stand her in good steed in her new career. But what lengths will she go to in her pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way? Let’s just say that in Greezers, chock-full of popular culture and musical references that fans of the series have come to expect, Simon Plaster has Henrietta putting her “assets” out on stage for all to see, even having her briefly working at a strip club in her efforts to surveil a subject, Harry DeGrasso, who is a potential heir of the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company.

You may wonder why Greezers is called Greezers. It’s because the book is about the plots and schemes of potential successors to the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company’s chain of Greezers lube shops to one day take over control of same from the Company’s elderly 95-year-old matriarch, Nanette GeGrasso. While her son, Charles, being the Executive Vice-President of the Company, looks like he would be the obvious choice as the heir apparent, he has fallen out of favor with his mother, and he has familial rivals who also would like to dethrone Nanette, like her nephew, Joe DeGrasso, who is also an Executive Vice-President. Nanette acts scornfully towards all of the potential successors, with the exception of Harry, who is her grandson and a junior executive in the Company, under both the watchful eye and thumb of Charles. Charles, however, does not think that Harry is trained fully enough or is nearly as experienced and worthy as he is, and he believes that he, rather than Harry, should be the one to take over after his mother dies.

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.

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.