Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Writing: 4/5 Entertainment: 5/5
Workman’s Complication is one-third mystery, one-third comedy and one-third heart, which come together to make a book that is a whole lot of fun from start to finish.
Kate McCall is first and foremost an actor, but when her father turns up murdered in a life insurance company elevator, she inherits his private investigations company and becomes a PI herself. As if finding her father’s murderer wasn’t enough of a case, she must also find out if a ballroom-dancing construction worker really fell off a piece of scaffolding, or if he’s faking it to milk millions out of his employer. To crack both the cases, Kate calls on the eclectic and crazy tenants of her apartment building and the animated, eccentric members of her drama troop.
Mystery has never been a favorite genre of mine. I read one “Alex Cross” novel and it was so cold, impersonal, and needlessly raunchy that I felt like I needed a shower afterwards and never bothered looking into the genre again, so I was skeptical when I first picked this book up.
Thankfully, Kate McCall and Alex Cross couldn’t be more different. Kate is witty, clever, creative, a bit over the top, and incredibly personable. From the first page, she sounds like a real person that you might meet on the streets of New York. The characters that live in Kate’s apartment building and preform with her are equally entertaining and downright hilarious. A few of them are so much larger than life that they don’t sound like real people, but I enjoyed them so much that I really didn’t care. They’re a blast to read, believable or not.
The way Leder portray the characters directly involved in the cases makes you really invest in the outcome. I really wanted Kate to discover that the construction worker was faking it because he boss is a wonderful guy (but I won’t tell you if she did or not :P). I really wanted Kate to find out who killed her father because she’s great and I wanted to see her triumph. Since I cared about the characters, it always felt like there was something more at stake than just finding answers.
Another thing that Leder does surprisingly well is make New York a vivid backdrop for the story. I’ve never been to New York City, but I’ve seen enough movies to know what it physically looks like. However, it has never been alive the way it is in Workman’s Complication. Leder has a knack for making the places Kate goes as important to the story as the characters. The places he picks are always perfect for the scenes that unfold and make them feel as three-dimensional as the characters. Whenever he describes a location, every word feels important and adds to the world around Kate. And not only the places, but the walk-on characters as well. People you only see for a few pages, or even a few paragraphs, feel fleshed out and make the scenes believable and real. It’s quite impressive and makes the book enjoyable on multiple levels.
I don’t want to say too much more, seeing as Workman’s Complication is a mystery, but I highly recommend it. Everything from the characters to the comedy to the writing and story are so enjoyable that, even if you’re new to mystery novels, there’s something that you’re bound to enjoy.