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?
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
I was so excited when I first heard SJ Pajonas was writing a cozy mystery and this book definitely didn’t disappoint. The Daydreamer Detective is about main character Mei, she has just been fired from her job and can’t afford to pay the rent on her Tokyo apartment so she return to her small hometown. This book is a cozy mystery, but it’s about so much more. the characters take a strong focus and Mei her search for what she wants to do next and finding her place in the world. I really enjoyed this book, it has a gentle pace like I expect from Pajonas her books which fits the story perfectly. There was enough going on to keep me interested and I enjoyed the book.
The mystery is an important part of the book and while normally I like the mystery to be front and center in cozy mysteries I didn’t mind it here as much when the mystery went to the background a few times as there was enough else to keep me interested and I wanted to know more about the characters and their daily life. I did think the mystery was a tad predictable, there are some suspects at first, but as the story continues a few get cleared and one of my initial suspects turned out to be the murder. I also would’ve liked a bit more insight in the murders motives. Overall it was a nice mystery, but I would’ve liked a few more twists and turns. I did like how Mei got bought into the investigation, it was a fun scene and it was interesting how open the police were about people helping with the investigation.
This book is different form most cozy mysteries I’ve read so far, a slightly different feel and some of the standard themes like how the main character usually is the one to find the death body were absent. But the book made it work. I think the setting is one of the things that made it so different. This book is set in Japan and that means the law and police investigations are different. I really felt like Pajonas had done her research into this as it all sounded believable and I got a bit of a feel of how law and investigations are handled differently in Japan than here or in the US, which was interesting.
How the story takes place in Japan also makes for an interesting setting. The book is set in an adorable small Japanese town and I could visualize it pretty well. There are also some developments going on in the town, with some new stores and a big grocery store settling there, which makes me curious how the town will continue to develop. Oh and I loved the mentions of food and drinks, which made me wish I could try out whatever Mei was eating. There are some Japanese words added into the story which added to the Japanese feel and I didn’t have any trouble understanding any of the words used as it was always obvious due to the context or previous knowledge what the word meant.
Mei the main characters makes for a great main character and I immediately liked her and could relate her when we met her. She’s a daydreamer, often letting her mind wander, this aspect was described well and the title Daydreamer Detective definitely fits her. She’s a bit lost, doesn’t know what to do next and figuring out what to do next. She loves art, but hasn’t painted in a long time. She also has some scars from the past and some flaws like her low self esteem and urge to run away at times. She was a well developed character with strengths and flaws, she felt like a real person. I loved reading about her and following her adventures and daily life.
There were some interesting side characters as well. My favourite were Mei her mother and Yasahiro. Mei her mother is very sweet and supportive, she works hard and loves to cook. She also is very supportive of Mei and gives her the space and freedom to figure out her next path. She’s also proud of her daughter and willing to help her when possible. I really liked her and Mei was lucky to have as her mom.
I had some trouble remembering who was who at times, but for some reason I have a lot of trouble with Japanese names usually, it just mashes all together and they all sound similar. Although I was glad that some characters had a bit shorter names, which seemed easier to remember. There is quite a cast of side characters, but not all of them play as big a part, so that’s probably also a reason why I had some trouble remembering who was who at times. Most of the side characters do stay a bit flat and I would’ve liked to get to know some a bit more. I wasn’t a fan of Akiko, she should’ve been Mei her best friend, but I just didn’t quite feel it. I did like Goro the police officer.
Then there is Yasahiro the love interest, he was a great character too and I liked his interactions with Mei. He’s very caring and sweet and I liked these two together. Oh and he’s a cook! I liked the food and cooking aspect that his job brought to the book. There is a bit of romance, more than in most of cozy mysteries and I would’ve liked even more. Their relationship does develop a bit fast, but I didn’t too mind too much as I liked them together. I hope to see more of these two in the next book.
To summarize: I really enjoyed this book! The mystery was a tad predictable and I would’ve liked a few more twists or surprises, but I did like how Mei got into the investigation and helped out. It also was interesting to learn a bit more about how Japanese law and police works, the author sure did her research. I liked the Japanese settings and the use of some Japanese words and mentions of food which added to the feel. I really liked Mei, she was a great main character. Her mother is a great side character and I really liked her. There is some romance which was a nice addition and I really liked Mei and Yasahiro together. All in all a great start of the series and I can’t wait to read the next book!