Miso Cozy Mysteries #2
"December has set in and just when the rural town of Chikata is recovering from one murder, Mei and her new boyfriend, Yasahiro, find their friend, Etsuko, dead in her apartment. Etsuko was sweet and talented, and now everyone suspects her longtime boyfriend killed her. Mei doesn’t believe it, though, and she vows to help solve the crime.
But Mei has more to think about than murder. With the barn gone and their vegetable stores destroyed, she and her mother are down to their last canned goods and no money for heat. Mei’s mom is fortunate to find work, but Mei must fend for herself, get a job, and keep their financial situation a secret from Yasahiro. In pursuit of paying work, she stumbles onto a new witness to the crime, and before long, the dead woman's secret life unravels before everyone’s eyes. Half-starving and out of her element, Mei is on thin ice, and it’s going to take a whole lot of ingenuity and quick thinking to solve the crime before the killer gets to her as well."
Thank you to the author, S.J. Pajonas, and to Lola @ Lola's Blog Tours for gifting me with an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!
This is the second book in the Miso Cozy Mysteries series. The first book, The Daydreamer Detective (my review HERE), has definitely met it's equal with the newest installment. Let me tell you why!
1. The setting. Once again, S.J. Pajonas has rendered me amazed at the atmosphere that is woven in this book. It takes place in most of the same places as the last book so we're able to get a much deeper view and explore some new places. I loved how the author is able to make the setting so vivid and real without writing pages of descriptions. I've never been to Japan (where this takes place) but I feel as though I know more about the general atmosphere there than I did before reading this series.
2. The characters. Again, there are mostly the same characters in this book (with, of course, a new one here and there) so we're able to delve a bit deeper. I'm glad that the author didn't squander the opportunity to make the reader more aware of Mei and her mother's mindset and morals (as well as Yasahiro and Giro's!) and values. It was interesting to see the separation of the generations between Mei and her mother and how that affected their mindset on life. I also enjoyed seeing the dynamic between Mei and Yasahiro change and develop as they both have different upbringings and have different experiences when it comes to traveling to places outside of Japan. The characters felt real, personable, and relatable.
3. The mystery. One of the main plot lines in this book is the mystery of Etsuko's death. Just like the first book, I enjoyed how Mei was able to assist and we, as readers, are able to follow along in the mystery and figure it out as well without the book taking on a darker air. I'm rather new to the genre of cozy mysteries and I'm enjoying them! The one thing I do have to say about the mystery is that while I loved how it was revealed and how the clues were laid, I felt it was resolved rather quickly at the end. The actual arrest and apprehension was there but then the book just ended. Perhaps the next book will pick up where this one left off!
4. The rest of the plot lines. Another thing I love about this series is how the author manages to combine multiple plot lines into one book seamlessly. While Mei is figuring out the mystery, she is also working through her relationship with Yasahiro and his ex, trying to find another job, working, and developing her dream. This really helps cement the 'real-life' feel of the book as this is how the rest of our lives work as well. We all have multiple things going on at once in our lives and we deal with them in turn.
The Final Verdict:
Quite honestly, I loved this book. It perfectly weaves together the natural stresses of daily life. Combined with the impeccable settings and characters that jumped off the page, this book is perfect for reading on a cozy winter night. The idea that one can write a mystery book without it being dark or creepy is intriguing to me and I want to read more!