An Oklahoma reporter and a fairly novice shamus work a case involving presumed adultery and a strong possibility of murder in Plaster’s (Boobs, 2015, etc.) sendup of traditional whodunits.
Henrietta Hebert, employed at a weekly newspaper in Henryetta, Oklahoma, is sure to be late for her first online course examining classic love tales. She’s waiting on her mom, Wynona Sue, who has exciting news: she’s met the love of her life, professor Alexander Lehough. Two days later, though, Wynona Sue is devastated, certain that Alex is having an affair. She bases this on the fact that Alex said the name “Zander” in his sleep, but she’s unaware that it’s Alex’s name for his own alter ego, with whom he has regular, internal conversations. It also turns out that Alex hasn’t quite divorced his estranged wife, Charlene; meanwhile, she and her lover, Virgil Carter, are in hiding after narrowly escaping a political assassin. Charlene’s attempts to get her hands on Alex’s alleged Nobel Prize winnings lead her to private eye Max Morgan. Alex’s divorce attorney had hired Max, a die-hard fan of TV and film detectives, to track down Charlene. However, Max may have a juicer case involving an anonymous note implying that someone’s been killed. Henrietta, too, investigates—especially after Max accuses her mother of murder. This amusing murder-mystery lampoon largely hits the mark. It’s not really a true mystery to readers, who quickly find out the note’s origin, but they’ll still find it a treat to watch the characters scramble for answers they doubtlessly won’t find; at one point, for instance, Max toys with the idea that the nonexistent Zander is a murder victim. There are some satirical bits, with the best involving Henrietta’s classmates, who use lectures on classic love stories to launch independent stances on sexism and discrimination. Nevertheless, Max is the standout here; he’s so lost in his world of noir that he even mixes up a cop’s name with that of a character in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series. The author might have used a little restraint, though, as Max’s tough-guy drawl (“For you, Honey, no charrrge”) is relentless; some cultural references can also be excessive, such as an ample recap of the plot of the 2015 sci-fi movie Ex Machina.
A humorous take on genre conventions in which the farce overtakes the mystery.