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She Wore Mourning

· Mystery Reviews,4 Stars
Zachary Goldman Mysteries, Book 1 • P.D. Workman • ★★★★

P.D. Workman has created a deeply flawed but very compelling character in Zachary Goldman. His background is tragic and his ability to interact with the world and appear "normal" is one of his greatest daily challenges, and both informs and hinders his work as a private investigator.

The central mystery is heartbreaking—a "cold case" that's the drowning death of a five-year-old—and there are plenty of twists and turns on the way to solving it. The dead child's parents are fascinating to read about, needing to keep it together through their non-neuronormative conditions. Workman writes the characters of the parents believably and three-dimensionally: their conditions don't define them. The reader easily sees the real people where society might only see the conditions.

The secondary characters in the romantic/personal subplots are not quite as compelling as the main character or the child's parents. Goldman's main love interest is a too-good-to-be-true dreamgirl with the patience of Job, and Goldman's ex-wife often veers into too-crazy-to-put-up-with territory, although she comes back from the precipice a couple of times.

While Goldman is well-rounded, he too exhibits some troubling behavior that Perfect Love Interest Girl forgives way too easily. Although these relatively minor nits keep the book from entering five-star territory for me, they didn't detract from the "unputdownability" of this book.

She Wore Mourning is a solid, satisfying detective novel, and it piques interest for the next book in the series.

—Paul Austin Ardoin

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