by Gosho Aoyama; adaptation by Naoko Amemiya
published by Viz; $9.95 US
I’m a little lost. At the end of book two, the kids Conan was forced to go to school with were threatening to investigate his deserted home. (I say “forced” because even though he has the mind of an almost-adult, he looks like a six-year-old.) I took this to be a hint toward the next storyline; apparently, it was just a joke, since book three opens with Conan, Rachel, and her dad on a cruise ship, returning from an island trip.
Rather contrivedly, they, the crew, and a large family returning from a wedding are the only ones on the charter ship. The bullying patriarch is killed, and most of the family members have motives. One of the few sympathetic characters is blamed for the murder, and Conan must find the real killer before the ship docks.
Unlike The Kindaichi Case Files, the primary aim of the mysteries here aren’t to be solved by the reader; they’re to be followed along. The emotions, comedy and drama, are given precedence over the puzzle. The reader feels more like Rachel than Conan, watching the detective as sidekick, and luck plays as much a role as deduction.
The book also contains a second mystery, in which Conan has to find out why a doctor is being sent large sums of money and used toys. Events become complicated by Rachel’s suspicions that Conan is really Jimmy. I’m pleased to see her character being moved along quickly this way. It gives her more to do than just hang around listening to Conan be smart, and it’s strangely reminiscent of classic Lois Lane stories. Unfortunately, I suspect that, like the end of book two, this is just another temporary plot twist, soon to be forgotten in the next volume.
With the inclusion of action to wrap up the cases, this series reminds me more of CSI than Ellery Queen. That’s ok — pure deduction is only one kind of mystery story, and here, the character interplay is a significant part of the mix. I previously reviewed Book 1.