story by Yuma Ando; art by Yuki Sato
published by Kodansha Comics; $10.99 US
Just as the stories started to get repetitive to me, this volume of the series ends with a significant change for the characters.
First, though, most of Sherlock Bones Book 5 concludes the mystery started in the previous volume, in which a lady mayor has killed a blackmailing former paramour. There’s much emphasis put on her looks throughout, with statements such as, “You’re young and pretty, and yet you’re also competent.” Thus, not recommended for those looking for more progressive attitudes.
The mayor and the kids spend a good amount of time together. They’re interviewing her (for the school newspaper), while she’s using them to build an alibi. There’s a lot of back-and-forth, as Takeru keeps noticing details — there’s a remarkable lack of Sherdog’s involvement — and the mayor keeps having to explain them away.
Reading the case the second time through, I noticed a few moments that took on new meaning, once I knew precisely how the crime was committed, a nice touch, but one that doesn’t make up for the general clunkiness. The whole thing falls apart when you realize that a mayor of any city should have staff, or at least an assistant, handling much of what we’re shown. There’s also a key clue found only by random chance.
As in previous books, there’s also the problem of Sherdog operating on hunches and feelings instead of actual deduction. The dog reincarnation of Holmes has been taking a lesser role in order for Takeru to demonstrate his own growing detective abilities. Here, though, a number of “clues” boil down to mere preferences. The investigators seem like they’re casting wildly for anything that seems suspicious to justify their own guesses — to the point that sitting on a sofa instead of in a chair is considered significant. Perhaps that takes on more meaning in Japanese culture than here, but it seems to this reader a stretch, trying to build a case out of string and sticks.
That feeling comes to a head when Takeru decides to confront the murderer by himself. There’s no sensible reason for that, other than the author not having enough proof and needing to push the story along. Plenty of detective plots have done something similar, and I wouldn’t mind so much, except that this one is using the name of Sherlock Holmes to sell, and I think those fans are more demanding. The showdown also has some ridiculously exaggerated images, punctuated by panty shots, that seem to have wandered in from some other series.
The last few chapters reinforce the relationship between Takeru and Sherdog, even as the story jumps ahead and shows us Takeru as a police academy student officer. The case, just started here, is about a wine-loving newscaster who got his job through marriage. He despises his wife, who has found out about his affairs and threatened to have him fired. Once again, coincidence brings the young policeman into the case, where he starts noticing slight oddities that will reveal a murder. (The publisher provided a review copy.)