Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Daydreamer Detective by S J Pajonas + #FreeBook

The Daydreamer Detective by S J Pajonas
Published in America by Onigiri Press on the 31st March 2016.

How I got this book:
Downloaded the free ebook via Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mei Yamagawa is out of luck and out of money. After five years in Tokyo, she has little to show for it besides a laundry list of unrealized dreams. Left without a choice, she returns to her rural Japanese hometown, ready to be branded a failure by her relatives and rivals. At the least, she looks forward to seeing her best friend, until Akiko is accused of murdering her own father.

As Mei helps her farmer mother with the crops, she scouts for clues to clear her friend’s name. But during her investigation, she can’t help but notice the celebrity chef looking in her direction. The amateur detective can balance a new love interest and a murder case… can’t she?

To clear her friend of the crime and find the real killer, Mei’s going to need every last ounce of her imagination… and just a pinch of luck.

The Daydreamer Detective is the savory starter to the Miso Cozy series of cozy mystery novels. If you like twisty plots, delectable food descriptions, and rural Japanese towns, then you’ll love Steph Gennaro's culinary tale.

I enjoyed reading one of S J Pajonas' Japanese-set shorter stories, Mamachari Matchmaker, a while ago so snapped up this first book in her Miso Cozy Mysteries series, The Daydreamer Detective, as well. To be honest, the story is a bit too undecided on what it wants to be for my tastes. It's a coming of age tale, a chaste romance, and a cozy murder mystery, but the main focus is on Mei's woe-is-me ponderings about the disastrous path her life has taken.

Sacked from yet another job and behind on her rent, Mei returns home from Tokyo to her mother's farm in small town Chikata and proceeds to spend most of the time sulking like a spoilt teenager rather than behaving the twenty-six year old adult she is supposed to be. Her life has lots of positives, but all Mei can think about is not being in Tokyo anymore and she makes sure to list all her perceived losses and failures at every chance she gets. I quickly got quite fed up with her and felt that the overall story would benefit from a lot of this padding being edited out.

On the plus side, The Daydreamer Detective is an interesting blend of American writing and Japanese setting. Pajonas obviously has a great love for Japanese life and culture, especially the food, and this comes across throughout the story. I liked how she gives Mei a love of American TV shows and cleverly uses this as a rationale for the character's trans-Pacific style. I struggled to believe that Yasahiro, the chef, would really have been so persistent in wooing Mei, considering the way she keeps doubting him and herself, so the romance angle didn't really work for me, but I did like the characters surrounding Mei, especially her put-upon mother who turns out to have far more going on in her life than Mei gives her credit for!

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