Despite the fact I spend a lot of my time reviewing fantasy or isekai books, one of my favourite genres of fiction is mystery stories. When it comes to these kinds of releases, there aren’t many in the light novel sphere, which makes it all the more exciting when one does come around. Today I’m here to take a look at Volume 1 of The Detective Is Already Dead from Yen Press, which promises to scratch this itch of mine.
The story follows Kimihiko Kimizuka who always attracts trouble to him. Wherever he goes, he stumbles upon crimes, ranging from purse snatchers right up to drug deals and kidnappings. One such event leads him to be forced to carry a suitcase onto an international flight, but on this plane, he meets a woman who changes his life forever.
The flight Kimihiko is on is hijacked and the perpetrator asks if there is a detective on the flight, to which the girl sitting next to Kimihiko replies there is. The girl calls herself Siesta and asks Kimihiko to work as her assistant on this case, to which he readily agrees, having become swept up in the moment. Together they solve the case and then go on to travel together for three years until Siesta dies.
This is where the real meat of the story kicks in because although we see how Kimihiko and Siesta met, afterward we’re left with nothing but the sad reality that she’s no longer in this world and Kimiko has gone back to his ordinary life at his senior high school. One day, Kimihiko’s classmate Nagisa Natsunagi comes to him with a case that will once again change his life for the better, but is Kimihiko ready to move on?
Nagisa Natsunagi initially comes to Kimihiko in the hope that he can help her figure out who the mysterious person is that she’s been yearning for. Since she had a heart transplant, she’s found herself wishing to reunite with someone, a person she doesn’t even know. As it turns out, this very person is Kimihiko himself and Nagisa’s new heart used to belong to his mentor, Siesta. In a way, she has found a way back to him and now Nagisa wants nothing but to spend time with the young man. She might not be Siesta, but that doesn’t mean she can’t inherit her dreams and desire to be an ace detective herself.
Although this first volume contains three different stories, it’s less focused on the mystery and more on setting up the cast. A lot is going on, with us having to get used to Kimihiko, Nagisa, Siesta and a selection of side characters but to author nigozyu’s credit, it never feels overwhelming. I quickly grew attached to Kimihiko’s levelheaded and intelligent personality as well as his relationship with Siesta. He talks fondly about his time spent with her, despite the fact the two were often in life-threatening danger, due to being on the run from a criminal organisation of superpowered humans.
There is also a nice contrast between the parts of his life he spent with Siesta, compared to being with Nagisa. Before, he was very much the assistant, while in the present day his skills make him a better fit as the detective – although he refuses to acknowledge this, instead insisting he is simply an assistant. Both of the girls have fairly overpowering personalities compared to Kimihiko, opting to tease him about this or that while enjoying his company. They might be off-putting to some readers because they tend to mess around and engage in banter even during serious scenes, but to me, that makes them seem all the more human.
While this isn’t as heavy on the mystery as I would have wanted from this genre, I have to say I still enjoyed the book. The characters carry it through any weaknesses and once I got to the end, I was certainly excited to read more in the future (and watch the currently airing anime). This series won the Best Prize 15th MF Bunko J Light Novel Rookie awards and is (as the award suggests) the author’s first work. It does feel rough around the edges in terms of writing quality, especially with the contrast between the serious subject matter and the comedic dialogue. However, I am willing to let this go for a volume or two to see if it improves. given how much I enjoyed the core premise and the fact that I’ve heard promising things about future instalments.
As previously mentioned, The Detective Is Already Dead Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Taylor Engel. The translation reads well with no issues to note. The series is ongoing in Japan at five volumes and Volume 2 is scheduled for an English release in October.
Overall, if you’ve been watching the anime adaptation or simply find yourself looking for a new detective series, then The Detective Is Already Dead is well worth your time. While there are some flaws, if you’re a fan of the genre, the strengths more or less overcome them.