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.
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.