Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Even on vacation, Mei can’t get away from murder. Traveling to Kubako for a three-day matsuri festival and fireworks, Mei, Akiko, and Kayo are just looking for some relaxation and tasty food, not a weekend full of drama. But when a local celebrity is poisoned in Kayo’s family brewery, Kayo’s father is the main suspect. Now, Mei, Akiko, and Kayo must put their meddling ways to the test. With the help of Kayo’s mother and some local friends, they gather evidence while dodging hotheaded detectives and another dead body. But time is running out and the murderer has everything they need to bury the evidence and deflect suspicion onto someone else. How will they find the murderer when the matsuri is in full swing and everything points to the wrong suspect?
MATSURI AND MURDER is a Daydreamer Detective novella that will keep you on the chase and rooting for Mei until the very end!
I received a free copy of this book from the author and voluntarily reviewed it.
I was so happy that we got another novella in this awesome series. This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and I always am looking forward to the next book. This novella was a real treat. Not only has it a full mystery in a novella length story, it also has some great twist, new side characters, a new town/ setting and it’s all set around the matsuri festival. I am not even sure how the author fit all that in this novella. I had a lot of fun reading this one.
Mei and her two friends Akiko and Kayo are going on a short vacation in this book. They’re traveling to Kayo’s hometown to enjoy the matsuri festival there. I was curious how this different setting would play out and I can only say Pajonas did an awesome job with it. It was fun to visit another town than where the main books take place and see how things worked differently here. They get involved in a murder mystery, but now they don’t have a helpful policy force at their backs, but one that isn’t happy about them interfering, which added some additional conflict and difficulties. There are also a bunch of new side character we meet here and I had a lot of fun getting to know them. Kayo’s parent were so fun to read about, we also meet Kayo’s ex (I see potential for a second chance romance there) and some of Kayo’s old police buddies, not all of whom are happy to see her back for a visit.
The murder might be a bit shorter than in the full length novels, but it was just as engaging. It never felt rushed or too fast paced, which I thought was awesome. The mystery did progress a bit faster than usual, but the author wrote it in such a way that it felt natural. The mystery was a good one, there were plenty of suspects and motives. And with every piece of information the picture changed again. There were some great twists and turns and I had a lot of fun following Mei and her friends while they figured this one out. I didn’t have a clear suspect in mind, but I wasn’t too surprised when we found out who the murderer was. There was a twist I hadn’t expected. And another twist that I had picked up a small hint of earlier, so that was fun to see how that worked out.
I enjoyed spending some time with Mei and her friends. Mei is such a great main character. I like how she has a nose for mysteries and enjoys solving them, but she also makes sure not to get into dangerous situations. She always has back-up with her, which was nice as I like smart main characters. I also like how she stood up for herself a few times in this book. There’s also something Akiko mentions to her about her behavior and I am thinking she might remember those words in future books. I also liked Akiko in this book, she’s a good friend for Mei and I liked how reluctantly she got involved, but in the end was invested too in solving this mystery. I also liked how Mei and Akiko had Kayo’s back and immediately jumped in to help her solve this mystery.
I am so happy that there will be a Kayo spin-off as after this novella I just want to know more about her. There are hints about how it was for her growing up here, how she struggles with her family sometimes and also a bit of romantic troubles with a guy I think she still likes. Oh it’s the perfect set-up for a second chance romance and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Then there are her interactions with the police force here and what we find out about how and why she left. There is so much story surrounding her. And I liked how the author put all those little hints and set-up for future storylines in this novella.
This novella neatly fits in after book 4 in the series. Mei is still pregnant and there are a few mentions of previous events, but no big spoilers, so you can easily start with this book or read it as a standalone if you want to. Although if you start the series, I would recommend you check out the rest of the series too as it’s a great series.
To summarize: This was such a fun read. It’s amazing how Pajonas manages to fit everything in this fun novella length story without it feeling rushed. We follow familiar characters Mei, Akiko and Kayo to Kayo’s home town in this story. There’s a festival, a well done murder mystery, new side characters and more. It’s a great read that works well as continuation of the series as well as for people new to series as it can work nicely as standalone. There are almost no spoilers for earlier books, but fans of the series will understand a bit more about the situations they hint and talk about in this book. The mystery was a good one and kept me guessing for quite a bit. There are multiple suspects and for a long time it isn’t clear who is the murderer. I wasn’t too surprised when we found out who the murderer was, but I also didn’t have a clear suspect yet, and there’s a great twist there that I hadn’t expected. I am really impressed how the author not only put a great mystery in this novella, but also made this town come alive and introduce us to a bunch of new side character as well. I especially liked Kayo’s parents, who are so quirky and fun to read about. All in all this is a treat for fans of the series and also works great as a standalone read for those new to this series.