The Man from Oakdale, written by Alina Adams, who gave us Oakdale Confidential a couple of years ago, is a fun read for any watchers of As the World Turns, whether new fans or those of us who have stuck with the show since that April premiere when we watched a young 40ish Nancy Hughes pour her husband, Chris, a cup of coffee and say, "Good morning, dear." Just as Oakdale Confidential was authored by "Anonymous," later revealed to be character Katie Peretti, Alina Adams shares the writing credit this time with man-about-Oakdale, Henry Coleman. Adams is creative content producer for the show, as well as for Guiding Light, and has published a series of mystery stories.
This tale is a mystery that begins when Oakdale doyenne Lucinda Walsh hires Henry and his pepperkakor, the gorgeous Vienna Hyatt, to find her granddaughter, Lucy Montgomery, who disappeared two years ago, taking with her Johnny, her half-brother who was the focus of a custody battle between the boy's biological father, Craig Montgomery, and his late mother's brother, Paul Ryan. The boy's mother, Jennifer, was married to Dusty Donovan, who died and, in this time period, has not yet been resurrected. Fearing that the boy would be damaged by a civil war between two unsuitable candidates, Lucy kidnapped Johnny and left for parts unknown. Lucinda is worried about her granddaughter, and she is prepared to pay good money to Henry, who always needs ready cash.
Lucy's trail takes Henry and Vienna first to South America to the lovely country of Montega, where Lucinda's first-born, Sierra Esteban, is a prominent political leader. By sheer coincidence, or perhaps not, Detective Margo Hughes and husband Tom are on board the same plane as Henry and Vienna, and all four end up at Sierra's estate as guests. Craig Montgomery, Margo's brother and ex-husband of Sierra, seems to be ensconced at the estate as a guest, as well, and he and Sierra seem to have rediscovered the spark of their relationship.
Conversations with ex-pats Frannie Hughes and Sabrina Fullerton, who are Montega residents, clear up any confusions on the convoluted family relationship that make the girls both cousins and half-sisters, with both fathered by Dr. Bob Hughes. They are involved in a quasi-legal program that offers asylum to political refugees.
Craig quickly reveals his true motives for cozying up to his ex-wife, and the hunt is on. Clues to Lucy's whereabouts soon send Henry and Vienna flying over the ocean to the land of Vienna's birth, Sweden, and a visit to her family estate, which lies within the Arctic Circle. Henry, who is very attached to his creature comforts, suffers mightily in the frozen north, where he and Vienna share a guesthouse made entirely of ice and is located on her parents' estate, and where he needs government permission to buy a drink.
The two follow clues and search out a company called "Lester Keys," a name familiar to long-time ATWT watchers, and deal with other old-time favorites such as Ariel Aldrin and her mother, Greta. Suddenly Henry has another mystery on his hands: Vienna has disappeared. He eventually locates her, as Paul Ryan enters the smorgasbord of characters, but before long, Henry and Vienna are cold, miserable, and broke. A clue appears that suggests Lucy might be in New York, but the two sleuths limp back to Lucinda, who refuses to give them another cent.
A surprise call from Henry's sister, Maddie, a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, changes everything. Maddie tells them she has a new roommate in college, and he is Johnny Donovan, now age three and a half. He is with her and is a whirlwind of activity and attitude. Henry and Vienna take off immediately, using their maxed-out credit cards, to take charge of Johnny. Their thinking was that where Johnny goes, Lucy can't be far behind.
With Johnny in tow, and after the plane ride from Hell with a 3-1/2-year old who has never been disciplined, the faux parents arrive in Chicago for a visit with Gwen and Will Munson. Unfortunately, Paul Ryan has also tracked down the Munsons, and he carefully explains to Henry and all other interested parties the permutations and complexities of James and Gunnar Stenbeck's ancestry, and how that affects who gets the Stenbeck fortune. Soon Craig adds himself to the mix, until a final clue sends the characters to New York City and a memorable visit to the United Nations.
Eventually, Johnny leads them to Lucy, who, with a little help from her adopted aunt, Bianca, makes a getaway with the boy and remains hidden until she shows up in Oakdale seeking medical treatment for Johnny, a recent storyline on the show.
Besides being a fun story with interesting twists and turns, The Man from Oakdale is full of ATWT history and actually goes into depth about Henry and Vienna's different theories on children and parenting, probably the main reason why these two have not actually tied the knot. Henry has some funny lines, and Vienna comes across as more intelligent and thoughtful than she is portrayed on the show. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc., the book's a good read, and additionally, it explains a bit more about pepperkakor, which is a Swedish form of gingersnap that you can make yourself by checking out the recipes on the Internet.