This book was reviewed for Lola’s Blog Tours
The Daydreamer Detective Braves the Winter is the second of Pajonas’ Miso Cozy Mystery series. It has only been a handful of weeks since Mei’s first harrowing adventure, working to solve the murder of her best friend’s father. Those events strained her relationship with Akiko, but Mei has found a new circle of friends since returning to her childhood home of Chikata, and she has a wonderfully caring new boyfriend.
Unfortunately, disaster is soon to strike again. Thanks to the fire that nearly cost her life, Mei and her ma have lost their winter stores of root vegetables, and all of Mei’s painting supplies. With these sources of income lost, they have fallen into near destitution. One by one, they begin to make do with things… including basic necessities like adequate food and heat. As winter descends, things grow harsh indeed. Then she and Yasahiro discover the body of one of their friends, and our daydreamer detective is drawn into yet another investigation.
At first too stubborn to ask for help, she and her ma must finally face reality. They must be honest with their friends or they will freeze to death in their unforgivingly cold house. (I was very alarmed that they’d left the cat behind til I learned Mimoji-chan was safe and sound. Kitty cats love heat after all!) Throughout all of this, Mei finds a job she loves. She begins running errands for the elderly in Chikata, and helping them with chores. More than once, this proves a boon in her investigation into Etsuko’s death.
Like the first in the series, there are dark undertones masterfully woven into this little cozy mystery. From blackmail and money laundering to murder and hints of BDSM, Mei certainly has a lot to contend with! This tiny village is certainly becoming terrifying to live in.
I was very conflicted over Mei’s treatment of Akiko following the events of the last book. On one hand, I can understand it, given Mei’s past. On the other, I feel such compassion for Akiko. She had no idea her psychopath of a brother would up the ante, and she nearly died in the barn fire as well. She’s being avoided by the people who could offer her the strongest support.
This story played on my fears of not having enough, of being so poor as to be homeless or near to it. And it reminded me of the ice storms of my youth that would knock the power out for days on end, and leave us shivering around the fireplace. One time in particular, I had three blankets and all of our cats would burrow under the covers with me so I couldn’t roll over or move much. Heh. But we kept each other warm.
I also feel a strong kinship with Mei, and her feelings of not being good enough, especially over her physical scarring. Though I am too cynical to believe such things happen in ‘real’ life, I love that she has found such acceptance with Yasahiro. I hope she continues to bloom, and her hopes for the future are fully realised.
????? Highly recommended for those who love cozy mysteries, romance mysteries, and stories set in Japan. I’m looking forward to the next one!