Miso Cozy Mysteries #1
"Luck? Forget it. Mei Yamagawa is fresh out of it. She's just been downsized from her 3rd job in five years and her bank account is dry. Now, to keep her head above water, she must leave Tokyo and move back to her rural Japanese hometown. And there's nothing worse than having to face your old rivals and ex-boyfriends as a failure while starting life over as a farm girl.
But when her best friend's father is murdered, and her best friend is named the main suspect, Mei turns her daydreaming ways towards solving the crime. Between dates disguised as lunches with the town's hottest bachelor chef, searching for clues, and harvesting sweet potatoes, Mei has a lot of non-paying work cut out for her.
Will she catch the killer before her bad luck turns worse? Or will she fry in the fire with the rest of her dreams of success?"
Thank you to the author, S.J. Pajonas, as well as Lola's Blog Tours for gifting me with a copy of The Daydreamer Detective in exchange for an honest review!
I really loved this book, honestly. It was such a... nice mystery. Yes, it was about a murder, but somehow the whole book wasn't sinister. There are just a few tiny things that would have made it even more perfect. Let's jump in!
1. The mystery itself. So this book is centered around a murder mystery. Mei (our MC) comes back to her home town to find that her best friend's father has died. At first, everyone believes it was natural causes but the autopsy soon reveals it's anything but. As I said in the intro, this was such a nice mystery. While it is about a murder, it didn't have that overly sinister feel for the entire book. There were nice breaks which I'll talk about in the next section. Mei's journey to solving the mystery along with the police office Goro is really interesting to follow. While it didn't really have any major twists, there were some small ones that kept me interested. I loved the way it ended up! It's also really fun to follow along with Mei as she tries to figure it out. She isn't really an actual detective, it's just how crimes are solved in her small town that has virtually no crime. So she's pretty inexperienced and Google is one of her main sources of information which I actually really liked because I could picture myself doing that! It's nice to get away from the professionals once in a while.
2. All of the other plot lines. There are several other plot lines going at the same time as the mystery. I really liked how the two interacted simply because Mei isn't an ordinary detective and it just fit her life perfectly. There is a romance which I found so adorable as well as different events that force Mei to examine her life path. These plot lines also had a wonderful effect on the mystery story line. It broke it up a bit which kept the book from getting too dark.
3. The characters. For the most part, I really liked all of the characters. They all had their different characteristics which was interesting to explore. I do wish some of the characters had been a bit more fleshed out (such as Akiko). Sometimes I had difficulties remembering specific characters and their relationship to other characters. I don't know if it's simply because I'm unused to reading Japanese names or what.
4. The setting. This was actually my favorite part. I haven't read many books that take place in Japan and I've always found the different contrasting parts of their culture fascinating. Such as how Mei (who's lived in a big city like Tokyo for the past few years) comes to this small town where a lot of the older customs are still around. It's really cool to me how the Japanese culture is evolving but still staying the same. On a more micro scale, I could picture every scene and I loved getting to know the different places in the town and how they reflect the Japanese culture.
The Final Verdict:
A wonderfully warm mystery that still felt sinister, but never became too creepy. It kept a nice balance between the parts of the MC's life. The characters were very nice although a few could use a bit more fleshing out. The shining star of this book is the setting.
"Yasahiro, seeing my clumsiness for the tenth time from the floor. 'Let me get you a new one.'"
"He laughed. 'Wooing? You want to be wood?'
'I do. I've never been wooed, and it looks like fun.'"
"'Sake for lunch and a rosemary plant.'
'A rosemary plant? I can't keep anything alive.'
He laughed, walking past me into the house. 'The plant is for your mom.'"