The Detective Is Already Dead Volume 1 from Yen Press is a light novel written by nigozyu with illustrations by Umibouzu and translations by Taylor Engel. The artwork is gorgeous, with angelic light in the cover art and inserts works—think sepia but stunning, not sunken. But there’s more to this light novel than a gorgeous, I-want-that-outfit-she-has-on cover! The story starts at what readers will assume to be the end, yet it’s a new beginning with the same yet different person. With me so far? Let’s go deeper.
Character Has Kyon-like Sarcasm
Kimihiko Kimizuka is a young man who always winds up in trouble. Many of us think we are unlucky, and I do believe misfortune occurs in sets. Unfortunately, Kimihiko’s bad luck in The Detective is Already Dead is the kind that routinely has police side-eyeing him. If you don’t want to end up in hot water, avoid Kimihiko. Yet things take an exciting turn when he meets Siesta—a detective combatting a secret pseudohuman organization—and becomes her assistant. They travel the world to stop this group. When Siesta dies, Kimihiko returns to his hard but ordinary, by comparison, life until complications arise once again, and this is where the story begins.
Nagisa Natsunagi corners Kimihiko and demands he locate someone for she’s never seen. This seeming harmless task drags Kimihiko back into the world he recently left. Siesta is present throughout the book despite being dead. People reference her, hate her, miss her; even Kimihiko has Siesta on his mind. People thought of Siesta as the detective extraordinaire, but Kimihiko discovers he is also capable. He reminds me of Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and I love that about The Detective is Already Dead. If you’re meeting drama, let the sarcasm drip!
Supernatural Detectives? Yes!
The light novel held my attention because of the twist, but also the flashbacks. Those flashbacks of the past when Kimihiko first meets Siesta on an airplane and the duo’s encounters with various pseudohumans reeled me in. I also love a story where I’m in a position to try and figure out what’s occurring and identify the clues. The light novel has harem qualities as almost everyone around Kimihiko, including an officer, are women and girls, but they do not rely on harem hilarity to engage readers.
Thanks to the supernatural parts of The Detective is Already Dead and Columbo-style mysteries, the plot doesn’t drag and maintains a consistent pace throughout. I won’t spoil the twist that arrives near the beginning, but that catapults the story’s momentum. Plus, I sympathize with anyone that’s a magnet for trouble. While my misfortune is not on Kimihiko level, I get how unbelievable sets of drama can be.
A few additional characters are still flat, but it’s only the first volume so there is plenty of room to grow. With a lead like Kimihiko Kimizuka, unfortunate circumstances are inevitable. The fun is watching them occur and using clues to solve before the characters. The Detective is Already Dead hurtles us into the story after what should be our lead, the detective, died. That’s novel. The characters are cute, but need development. However, it’s a worthwhile read if you love mysteries, stories like Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy and have a knack for identifying villains in films and shows. Also worth a read for the sci-fi elements as there is still a lot to discover.