Detective Conan Volumes 16 to 29 — 14-Volume Review Lightning Round

(*Note, although this is the sixteenth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t updated my Detective Conan reviews in a while. The last update was a review of volume 15, nearly a third of a year ago… This is NOT because I haven’t been reading it, but quite the opposite: I’ve been reading it between classes, while bed-ridden with sciatica, at the hospital waiting to be diagnosed with sciatica, during mental health burnouts, over lunch… It’s such a breezy and easy to read series that it’s become a go-to comfort read for me when I feel like I haven’t touched enough mysteries lately.

I’m actually at book 30 in Detective Conan now, and reviewing these somewhat weekly means I’ll never catch up and never have room to discuss any other non-literature mysteries! So I kept putting off writing new Detective Conan reviews, but then continued reading the series until one day I realized… oh no… I’ve only reviewed half of what I’ve read!

Suffice it to say, this was unideal. Anxiety set in (as it always does when I’m facing the most insignificant problems a person has ever faced) and I had no idea how I was ever going to catch up with myself reviewing them one measly book at a time!

…So why review them one book at a time? Why not write one massive catch-up review post, covering all 14 volumes I’ve read since I last updated the series, and continue from there? Does this seem inefficient and inelegant? Probably.

But I’m still doing it. It makes me feel better.

Detective Conan is one of if not simply the largest “classical-styled” mystery series in the entire world, boasting exactly 700 disparate mystery stories across 1109 chapters of 104 books, and 1067 episodes of 31 seasons of television (only counting the stories original to the television adaptation), and that’s before taking into account video games, novels, movies, audio plays, and other random, obscure micro-entries… and the franchise isn’t even done yet, as it’s slated to continue in full force later this year! Suffice it to say that when I set out to consume nearly 2200 micro-units of media for review on this blog, I was making a huge commitment of time, energy, and effort, not to mention sacrificing my integrity in the eyes of more conservative mystery readership…

Naturally the project sometimes gets away from me, as I’ve read 15 whole books in the series since I last reviewed it. If it were one or two books I was behind, that’d be one thing, but 15…!? That’s not reasonable at all. I was simply not on top of the project. In order to get myself back on track, I’ve decided to carry out the worst plan in the history of plans and cram 14 reviews into one by going through a lightning round review of all 41(!) stories I’ve read but have yet to cover on the blog…


I don’t want to waste too much time on this preamble for a rushed and slapdash review, so without much further ado, let’s start with…

Volume 16 (1997)

Volume 16 only fully starts on Chapter 4 with Casebook 043 – Elementary School Mystery Case (Chapters 4-5), a Junior Detective League case borrowing from Japanese schoolkid mythology of every school having “seven mysteries”. The Junior Detective League investigates running skeletons and moving statues, but the solution is intentionally silly and not entirely interesting, even if the “motive” is really cute.

Casebook 044 – KAITO KID and the Black Star Case is a landmark case for the series, as it is the first crossover between Detective Conan and Gosho Aoyama’s other series Magic Kaito. Magic Kaito is a heist series about a magician-turned-supercriminal who seeks to steal every gem in the world until he can find the magical jewel that is responsible for his father’s death..! The protagonist, KAITO KID, often crosses over with Conan in heists told from the detective’s perspective, and this blend of heist fiction and classical detection results in an exceptionally fun and outstandingly unique story in this franchise. A+!

Casebook 045 – Famous Potter Murder Case (Chapters 10-2) involves a famous potter and his proteges excitedly showing the famous Detective Richard Moore their work when the potter’s daughter-in-law accidentally breaks his magnum opus… She’s naturally torn-up with grief, so when she dies by hanging in the shed the very next day, when everyone was together in the living room of the house with an alibi, it’s determined that her death must’ve been a suicide…

My biggest gripe with Conan alibi tricks is that the cases tend to get lazy by giving everyone a perfect alibi, highlighting the very existence of an alibi trick and making the tricks less functional and more obvious as a consequence. What’s here is a decent idea for a trick, but the cracks on the foundation become more apparent when your set-up shouts “hey, everybody look! Alibi here! There’s an alibi trick here!”. Some later Conan stories handle this better. Middle of the line story.

Volume 16 is fairly unremarkable if not for the exceptional KAITO KID case. It’s hard to recommend the volume on the weight of one story alone, but it is a landmark, so I’d suggest checking out the anime adaptation of this story to get context for future KAITO KID crossovers (of which there will be many)

Volume 17 (1997)

Volume 17 opens with Casebook 046 – Scuba Divers Attempted Murder Case (Chapters 3-5), in which a bride-to-be almost drowns after being bitten by a rare, poisonous sea-snake! But a chance observation by Conan, as well as Richard’s ex-wife Eri, leads to the realization that this seeming “accident” way well be murder.

The motive for this one requires a little tolerance for what is and isn’t taboo in other cultures, but it’s actually a really good plot with a smart visual clue. It recalls the last Attempted Murder case in Casebook 21 – Poisoned Bride Attempted Murder Case (Volume 8, Chapters 8-10) in that it involves a tragic misunderstanding that is resolved by the end of the case. I think the resolution works better in this case than that one, but this isn’t as good a mystery. Still, a really solid one!

Casebook 047 – Hospitalized Robber Case (Chapter 6) isn’t very interesting. It’s Die Hard but condensed into a single chapter of Detective Conan. My least favorite story in the series. Next.

Casebook 048 – Mysterious Clocks Mystery Case (Chapters 7-9) is a Junior Detective League code-cracker, only instead of the Junior Detective League it’s Conan and the Moores… Even if the JDL are absent, the case about a mysterious house where all of the clocks go off at once isn’t interesting or fair, giving it the same standard of plotting as those JDL stories… Also underwhelming.

Casebook 049 – Historical Actor Case (Chapters 10-2) sees Richard Moore summoned by an actor well-known for period pieces to act as reference for an upcoming detective film, but when they all witness the murder of his wife in the next-door apartment, Conan has to find a wrinkle in the open-and-shut case against the tenant… The case isn’t entirely original, as it recalls a particular Ellery Queen story, but it’s still a decently fun case that I enjoy well enough, with a pretty solid spatial trick.

Volume 17 seems split evenly between the good and the bad, but the bad stories are actually quite short. If you’re willing to pick up Volume 18 to finish Historical Actor Case, Volume 17 is a worthwhile addition for signed-on fans of the franchise!

Volume 18 (1997)

After finishing Historical Actor Murder Case, Volume 18 opens with Case 050 – Jimmy’s First Love Attempted Murder Case (Chapters 3-5), in which a fire starts from the inside of a house with a young woman inside, even though all of her friends were out at the time, singing karaoke miles away and in full view of each other…

Another “all of the suspects have an alibi” one, but the trick here is actually a really unique method of lighting a fire with an alibi, so it stands out from other, similarly-structured cases! A pretty cute and novel short form case, and one of the better stories from the series!

Case 051 – Lady in Black Kidnapping Case (Chapters 7-8) is another “thriller with logic” case involving the Junior Detective League involving the kidnapping of one of their classmates’ brother… It introduces Anita, an important character, but the case is otherwise not interesting at all and teases plot developments that don’t pan out.

Case 052 – University Professor Murder Case (Chapters 9-1) is a locked-room mystery in which Anita and Conan visit a university professor to retrieve Black Organization contraband, only to find the professor murdered in his locked-and-sealed office…

This is a unique take on the locked-room mystery because the case all but tells you from the get-go that the solution is a specific kind of string trick, and what the string trick was. However, the solution leaves another problem: how did the string escape from the room? I didn’t like the case at first because the string trick is rather silly, but once I realized the point was more the mystery of the disappearing string I lightened on it a lot. It’s actually a pretty novel locked-room mystery that I enjoy! Easy recommendation.

Volume 18 is a pretty solid entry into the series that’s worth checking out if you’re a signed-on fan. Not only does it contribute important plot development (something I don’t care about because it’s the most glacial narrative in the history of writing, but…), but it also has two pretty good cases bookending it. It isn’t one of the all-time great volumes, but a pretty good one worth checking out.

Volume 19 (1997)

After giving us the conclusion chapter to University Professor Murder Case, Volume 19 starts with Casebook 053 – Mystery Writer Kidnapping Case (Chapters 2-4), in which a mystery author appears to be leaving clues to his kidnapping in his serialized manuscript. Another boring code-cracker, which involves knowledge of three(!) languages to solve, and is just as tenuous and unbelievable as always.

Casebook 054 – Stabbed Wallets Murder Case (Chapters 5-8) has Conan visit Harley’s home of Osaka, where a serial killer with a bizarre M.O. is on the loose: first, he strangles his victims, and then he stabs their wallets…

Not a very interesting case for the first proper “serial killer” story, involving a tenuous “missing link” that makes no sense and reveals a pretty nonsensical motive for the killers. There’s one solid trick in the mix, but it’s a pretty unremarkable story, silly and unambitious.

Casebook 055 – Stadium Indiscriminate Threatening Case (Chapters 9-1) is a Junior Detective League story, but is more of a “thriller with logic” case as a man holds a stadium of over 26,000 soccer fans hostage with a bomb threat in exchange for millions of yen! Despite being a “thriller with logic” case, which are rarely fair, this one is pretty solid for being surprisingly fairplay with its solution and having some neat, clever developments. Not my kind of story personally, but pretty solid for what it is.

Volume 19 is one of the weaker volumes of the series so far, and it’s not even close. Despite the fairly decent Stadium Indiscriminate Threatening Case, nothing here stands out as worth going out of your way to read, nor is it important to read for context into the overarching narrative. Wholly skippable.

Volume 20 (1998)

Casebook 056 – KAITO KID and the Magic Lovers Murder Case (Chapters 2-6) is a fan-favorite of many Detective Conan fans, including TomCat of Beneath the Stains of Time, but I wasn’t as enamored with it. This no-footprints-in-the-snow mystery involving a murder at a meeting of an online magician fangroup has an overly technical, machine-based solution that doesn’t really do it for me. The solution represents a type of trick most people immediately think of when thinking about murders committed in snow without leaving footprints, too…

Also, KAITO KID hardly figures into the story. Don’t get excited, all 1 of you Magic Kaito fans…

Case 057 – Sealed Bathroom Murder Case (Chapters 7-9) has Richard Moore and Conan on the scene when a woman breaks into her taped-shut bathroom to find that her sister has committed suicide within….!

The solution and set-up are lifted entirely from Clayton Rawson’s landmark locked-room mystery story “From Another World”. There’s a neat touch with how Conan identifies the killer, a brilliant fatal visual clue that’d function well in an inverted mystery, but the locked-room mystery’s shameless pilfering knocks this story down a lot.

Case 058 – Blue Castle Murder Case (Chapters 10-3) is a four-chapter long JDL code-cracking case with a lot of padding and failed attempts at horror and suspense. The code is fair for English-speakers for once, but it still makes for an unremarkable story. We’ve been getting too many of these code-crackers…

Volume 20 is another pretty underwhelming and not very good volume in the series that isn’t worth seeking out to read in my opinion. Unremarkable all the way down.

Volume 21 (1998)

Casebook 059 – Jimmy’s First Murder Case (Chapters 4-7) has Rachel falling asleep on an airplane, reminiscing on the first murder case Jimmy (Conan) ever solved, also on an airplane… a case in which an unsavory tabloid photographer is murdered in a bathroom after boasting about the compromising photos he’s gotten of a prominent American politician!

The case offers some cute lore for Conan as a character, and is all-around a pretty well-written, well-plotted detective story with a fun alibi trick at its heart. The disappearing weapon element isn’t very interesting, and recalls an earlier story in the series, but the rest of the case is pure, good, un-gimmicky mystery plotting. Good stuff!

Casebook 060 – Treadmill Murder Case (Chapters 8-10) is the first in a series of stories called “Police Love Story” about the will-they-won’t-they romance between police detectives Wataru Takagi and Miwako Sato.

A semi-inverted mystery about Conan suspecting a man of murdering his wife, even though the man was at the police station when the crime occurred, the technical trick here isn’t very interesting, and a variation of a classification of trick the series is obsessed with… It’s a somewhat okay-ish variation on the concept, since it relies on environmental elements of which you are aware, but it’s not a favorite.

Casebook 061 – Wedding Day Murder Case (Chapters 11-3) is a pretty underwhelming and bogstandard locked-room mystery about a butler being murdered in a locked-room. There’s a decent double-bluff at the end with a string trick being proffered as a false solution, but the true solution is still an old dodge. However, I enjoyed the way the killer misdirected away from the trick, making this an unremarkable locked-room mystery but a decently smartly-done whodunit.

Volume 21 is better than the previous two volumes, with a higher average of quality, but is still not quite good enough to unambiguously recommend. If you’re a signed-on fan, I can say this is a decent volume worth your time, but people only looking for the highlights should just look for the anime adaptation of Jimmy’s First Murder Case.

Volume 22 (1998)

Casebook 062 – North Star Murder Case (Chapters 4-7) focuses on a professional robber who, after bungling a jewelry store robbery, murders the owner of the store on a train before impossible vanishing from a guarded compartment… All of which reminds Conan of an unpublished mystery manuscript written by his father!

The solution to this impossible disappearance isn’t very interesting, as it’s obvious and the clues are rather crude. I appreciate the framing device of excerpts from the father’s manuscript highlighting pivotal moments in the case, but the manuscript’s connection to the case is boring and hand-waved away. Not a very good one at all.

Case 063 – Serena Attempted Murder Case (Chapters 8-10) sees Serena, Rachel’s long-time best friend, the target of a serial killer who murders young blondes! If you can’t see the conclusion to this cheap dime-store thriller-esque narrative coming from a mile away, I don’t know what to tell you. Corny and not interesting.

Volume 22 contains no full stories worth reading, and doesn’t finish a very good story either. Not worth reading at all, and one of the worst volumes we’ve seen in a long time.

Volume 23 (1998)

Casebook 064 – Movie Theater Murder Case (Chapters 1-3) sees rotten real estate agent murdered inside of a failing movie theater after boasting about shutting the place down! His dead body is hung in front of the projection’s booth in the middle of the movie theater’s swansong marathon of every Gomera movie, in the attendance of which was none other than Conan and the Junior Detective League…

This is my second favorite Detective Conan case of all time so far, as it’s brilliant from top-to-bottom. The movie theater setting is exploited to produce a truly brilliant and unique alibi-trick, with some of the series’ best visual clues to top it all off. The Junior Detective League are restrained and quite helpful in this case too, allowing the story to side-step a lot of the typical pitfalls of JDL-centric plots.

Fantastic little setting-oriented mystery story, unambiguous recommendation!

Casebook 065 – Cruise Ship Murder Case (Chapters 4-9) is the first proper long-form case we’ve seen in a while, focusing on a cruise ship where the vengeful, once-thought-dead former head of a crime group is thought to soon resurface… And, naturally, in his wake he leaves many corpses!

This isn’t my favorite long-form Conan, as the trick at the heart of this one is a crude artifice I’ve seen and gotten bored of elsewhere, but despite the unambitious trick this is still a smartly-plotted, well-written detective story with tight reasoning that is plenty worth reading! Really good stuff!

Casebook 066 – Innocent Suspect Case (Chapters 10-2) is another entry into the Police Love Story series, in which Miwako Sato is handcuffed to the escaped suspect in a murder case in a bathroom! Despite the fact the man was alone in his locked-and-sealed apartment with the victim, he insists he’s innocent, and the two police officers decide to do a little more inquiring into the case with the Junior Detective League…

Surprisingly, another pretty good Junior Detective League murder case. The core trick at the heart of this Judas Window-esque locked-room mystery is silly in a very natural and believable way, and I actually kind of found myself being amused at not seeing the solution ahead of time. I wonder if I’d like this one as much returning to it, but as it stands I thought this was an amusing and comical take on the problem even if the melodrama of Sato being handcuffed to a toilet in a building that’s soon to be demolished unnecessary.

Volume 23 is one of the best volumes in the series so far! This is the first volume containing three stories in which I think all three stories are truly good and worth reading, and it contains my second favorite story in the whole franchise! Absolutely check this one out, it’s good stuffs, this!

Volume 24 (1998)

Casebook 067 – Blackout Murder Case (Chapters 3-6) is an unfortunately unremarkable story on the heels of Volume 23. As Richard is consulting a client, a man winds up electrocuted to death in a bathtub after a blackout! But who could’ve committed the murder, and how!

The murder method is one I’ve seen repeated in a few other stories, and the alibi “trick” shows Conan‘s age, as the tool required to make it work is much more well-known to us in the modern world and something we’d think of immediately. Not great.

Casebook 068 – Hotel Party Case (Chapters 7-11) sees Anita and Conan tailing a member of the Black Organization to a hotel party, whereupon they’re chased down by grunts from the group following a seemingly-impossible murder committed in the dark!

This is a plot relevant case, so naturally is of interest to those who care about that sort of thing, but as an independent murder murder is quite thin and unmemorable. Not worth reading unless you’re invested in the overarching story of Detective Conan.

Sadly another short and unpleasant volume not worth going out of your way to read unless you’re a signed-on fan of the overarching narrative of the series. Supposedly, Gosho Aoyama starts to shift his focus away from disconnected murder plots to more connected stories, so I wonder if that’ll cause my interest in the individual cases to dwindle going forward…

Volume 25 (1999)

Casebook 069 – Skating Rink Murder Case (Chapters 1-3) sees a woman shot to death in the bathroom of a skating rink during a fireworks show. Sure enough, she has a dying message in her hands implicating a friend of hers, but when the friend is revealed to be entirely innocent Conan is forced to figure out who would want to commit this murder and frame the friend…

The dying message repurposes a trick used earlier in the series, but the dodge here is equally effective as there is really smart psychological trick played here to give the killer a false alibi! As I’ve never used the tool used to produce the alibi, I think it’s probably a little unconvincing, but the forced association trick at the heart of this one is really neat in concept. Love it a lot, fantastic little case!

Case 070 – Tottori Spider Mansion Murder Case (Chapters 4-8) sees Harley and Conan investigating a series of suicides instigated by the Spider Mistress’s Curse, which have just recently been bookended by the impossible murder of a doll-maker in his locked-and-sealed shed, with his entire body strung up in a spiderweb-like arrangement of string…

The core murder method recalls a Father Brown tale, and it’s a murder method repurposed in a certain famous Kindaichi Case Files story… but an extra twist is put on the knot with a really smart piece of misdirection involving the state of the body and the spider imagery that disguises a pretty brilliant piece of alibi trickery which elevates the story beyond the fact it (obviously, from the set-up) turns on a variation of string trickery. Throw into the mix a haunting aesthetic and tragic motive, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great Detective Conan locked-room mystery!

Case 071 – Cave Murder Case (9-1) is another Junior Detective League code-cracking in which the kids need to solve a riddle to escape from a cave before they’re murdered by a group of thugs whose murder they’ve just witnessed. Putting Conan out of commission to force the JDL to reason for themselves was a smart idea, but they end up guessing instead of reasoning, making the set-up feel wasted and their victory unearned. Not very interesting or good.

Another fantastic volume with two all-time great cases! Although Cave Murder Case is disappointing, Skating Rink and Tottori Spider Mansion are two fantastic mystery plots that both begin and end within this volume. Unambiguous recommendation for this volume for those two exceptional stories!

Volume 26 (1999)

Casebook 072 – School Play Murder Case has an attendee of the high school play be poisoned by his drink… This is a really well-clued and well-written detective story, a fact sorely undercut by the fact the solution turns on a trick that has passed from cliche on to riddle on to punchline since its conception. It’s a shame, too, because some smart reasoning shows up in the denouement of this one…

Casebook 073 – Restaurant Elevator Murder Case is another inverted mystery from Detective Conan, in which a man murders his soon-to-be father-in-law in an elevator while using his wife as an alibi.

This is actually a really solid inverted mystery, with the killer being caught on a brilliant Furuhata Ninzaburou-styled slip of the tongue trap, but the fact the case has to share room with Conan (Jimmy) and Rachel’s romance plot does mean the investigation is a little thinner than I prefer, making the killer come off as a bit of a trivial pushover. Still, really good one, even if it falls behind the franchise’s better inverted mysteries.

Casebook 074 – Music Box Mystery Case (Chapters 8-10) sees a young woman attempting to figure out the secrets behind an apparently valuable music box her dead pen pal left her, despite the fact the antique shop says it’s worthless…

The story that follows ends up just being Scooby-Doo but played 100% seriously and with none of the humor of whimsy. Unremarkable.

Volume 26 does mark a sudden shift to more plot-relevant cases, as the first two cases each try to move along Jimmy and Rachel’s romance, and in both cases it does seem to come at the expense of the story. While the first two cases are decent and solid respectively, I can’t recommend wholeheartedly you go out of your way to read this volume unless you’re a dedicated fan of the series as-is. If you are a Detective Conan fan, though, this isn’t a terrible volume that could be worth picking up to fill some holes in your reading.

Volume 27 (1999)

Casebook 075 – Suspect Richard Moore Murder Case (Chapters 1-3) has Richard Moore become the prime suspect in a murder after the woman he drunkenly hooked up with was murdered in her locked and sealed hotel room! His separated wife and lawyer, Eri, sees to the investigation to prove him innocent…

The trick at the heart of this one is a pretty unremarkable variation of the kind of gimmick we’ve seen a few times within and without this series, so it wasn’t a very interesting case. The way the killer was caught is fun, but didn’t elevate the case any at all.

Casebook 076 – Sato’s Father Murder Case (Chapters 4-6) is another Police Love Story case, as well as a Junior Detective League case focusing on arson! Unfortunately, the code-cracking is, as always, unfair, tenuous, and unfun. The “parallel plots” reveal at the end is kind of amusing, but minor.

Casebook 077 – Arcade Murder Case (Chapters 7-9) sees a brutish bully murdered at an arcade in the middle of a career-defining match in a virtual reality fighting game! Only, of course, with everyone’s eyes on the game, there are no witnesses as to who may or may not have murdered the gamer…

This is actually another exceptionally good case. Although it might be somewhat easy to see through the core deception, the trick at the heart of this is novel, unique, and informed brilliantly by the video game setting. It is a much more clever utilization of video games than the disappointing Mantendo Bombing Case from Volume 12. Despite the ease with which some people will see through the alibi trick, Arcade Murder Case is easily my new third favorite case, with a unique plot informed by a unique setting.

Casebook 078 – Bear Hunter Murder Case (Chapters 10-2) is a Junior Detective League case in which Mitch and Anita flee from a murderer whose crime they’ve witnessed! Unable to come out into the open without being shot, Anita is forced to come up with a message to communicate with Conan so he can save their lives…

The misunderstanding behind the motive makes this a surprisingly sweet story, but the clues and plot are otherwise rather unremarkable. Decent motive misdirection, but not impressive in any other way.

Volume 27, sadly, wasn’t a great volume. Arcade Murder Case is an exceptionally novel murder mystery, but the other three stories don’t make the volume worth recommending for one case alone. I recommend everyone go check out the anime version of Arcade Murder Case as soon as possible, as it’s truly a wonderful case!

Volume 28 (1999-2000)

Casebook 079 – Old Photograph Murder Case (Chapters 3-5) has Richard commissioned by an old lady who seems to lie about insignificant things to find an old friend of hers to recover a photograph he accidentally took from her. When the friend is located, however, he is found murdered inside of his apartment after having eaten breakfast…

The alibi trick at the heart of this one recalls my favorite episode of Alibi-Cracking, At Your Service, and can be seen as a forebear to that exceptional episode. While it’s still a very clever idea in Detective Conan, I found this variation of the trick less impressive or convincing. Not that it’s a bad case by any means, I think it’s a pretty fun short-form murder mystery. It’s just somewhat inferior to another, similar story.

Casebook 080 – Mermaid’s Curse Murder Case (Chapters 6-10) has Harley and Conan investigating a letter from a woman who claims to be cursed to die by mermaids after she lost a talisman purported to grant eternal life… In investigating the woman’s disappearance, they explore an island with bizarre mermaid-worshipping religious practices and an annual celebration that results in three more murders…

There really isn’t much of a meaningful misdirection to speak of outside of a fairly clever double-bluff about the identity of one of the victims. This case revolves around a trick that I’ve always found to be somewhat corny and uninteresting, and it’s a rather unambitious variation of it too. It’s also a somewhat inferior long-form case as regards the plotting and cluing. Sadly not much better than decent despite its good reputation.

Casebook 081 – Girl Clubbing Murder Case (Chapters 11-2) is a serial killing case about a man killing ganguro (dark make-up) girls in a department store. The motivation is absurd, and the only noteworthy part of the story is one piece of misdirection about the killer’s body type and the attempt to give Inspector Meguire some development. A fairly mediocre case.

Another middle of the line Volume with a couple of decent moments but nothing unambiguously worth going out of your way to read. I don’t recommend this to any but the most dedicated of hardcore Conan fans looking to fill in some gaps in their reading.

Volume 29 (2000)

Casebook 082 – Bus Hijacking Case (Chapters 3-5) is a somewhat interesting “which-of-the-three” case in which Conan realizes that one of three people sitting in the back seat of a bus are communicating to a group of bus hijackers, but it’s impossible to tell how they’re communicating.

Unfortunately, what follows is more of a “thriller with logic” case, with pretty thin investigation/cluing into the culprit’s identity and not very memorable in resolution. Mediocre.

Casebook 083 – Dog Lover Kidnapping Case (Chapters 6-8) has a rare purebred dog kidnapped from a house of dog-lovers, and Conan on the case to discover who the culprit is.

There’s one somewhat neat clue surrounding the whereabouts of the dog, but the motive and method leave this story feeling plain and uninspired.

Casebook 048 – 3 K’s of Osaka Murder Case (Chapters 9-11) sees three western celebrities visiting Osaka for an event, when a murder is committed inside of a hotel in which the three men were alone! However, all three men have alibis proven by the fact they were turning lights on and off in front of hundreds of witnesses, making this crime impossible…!

The set-up is a really neat lead-in to an impossible alibi situation, but the resolution is underwhelming and flat-out unbelievable. This is a fan favorite case for the way it develops Conan’s character, but as a mystery it’s mediocre and middle of the line.

We finish off this long 14-part review with one final unremarkable volume, with not a good story worth going out of your way to read or watch in any form…

Overall, this batch of 14 is far from being the most consistent in the series. A lot of mediocre and underwhelming stories interspersed with a fair bit of good and truly fantastic cases leave this section of cases feeling balanced (or, perhaps, mixed…).

Special notice to Volume 23, which is truly exceptional and contains my second favorite case in the series, and Volume 25 which contains two great stories well-worth reading, including a terrific impossible crime! Add to the mix my third favorite case in Arcade Murder Case, and we still see plenty of truly good cases coming out of this series well worth seeking out for fans of classical detection!

To wrap up this long post, my ranking of all 84 stories we’ve read so far… My 5-point system has been expanded to a 10-point system in order to better account for more nuance between similarly-enjoyed stories.

*Newly reviewed cases are italicized and bookended with asterisks*

{10/10 — Favorites}

1.) Moonlight Sonata Murder Case (Case 018, V. 7 Ch. 2-6)
*2.) Movie Theater Murder Case (Case 064, V. 23 Ch. 1-3)*
*3.) Arcade Murder Case (Case 077, V. 27 Ch. 7-9)
4.) Tengu Murder Case (Case 030, V. 11 Ch. 8-10)
5.) The Art Collector Murder Case (Case 015, V. 6 Ch. 2-5)
6.) Tenkaichi Fire Festival Murder Case (Case 017, V. 6 Ch. 9-10 V.7 Ch. 1)
7.) TV Station Murder Case (Case 028, V. 11 Ch. 2-4)

{9/10 — Great}

8.) Bandaged Man Murder Case (Case 012, V. 5 Ch. 1-5)
9.) Wealthy Daughter Murder Case (Case 024, V. 9 Ch. 7-10, V. 10 Ch. 1)
*10.) Skating Rink Murder Case (Case 069, V. 25 Ch. 1-3)*
11.) KAITO KID and the Black Star Case (Case 044, V. 16 Ch. 6-9)
12.) The Night Baron Murder Case (Case 020, V. 8, Ch. 2-7)

{8/10 — Very Good}

13.) Bonds of Fire Murder Case (Case 042, V. 15 Ch. 10, V.16 Ch. 1-3)
*14.) Tottori Spider Mansion Murder Case (Case 070, V. 25 Ch. 4-8)*
15.) Poisoned Bride Attempted Murder Case (Case 021, V. 8, Ch. 8-10)
16.) Art Museum Owner Murder Case (Case 009, V. 4 Ch. 1-3)
*17.) Jimmy’s First Love Attempted Murder Case (Case 050, V 18 Ch.3-5)*
*18.) Jimmy’s First Murder Case (Case 059 V. 21 Ch. 4-7)*
19.) Elementary School Teacher Murder Case (Case 039, V 14 Ch. 9-10, V.15 Ch. 1-3)
20.) Scuba Divers Attempted Murder Case (Case 046, V. 17 Ch 3-5)

{7/10 — Good}

21.) Gomera Murder Case (Case 036, V.13 Ch. 8-10)
*22.) University Professor Murder Case (Case 052, V.18 Ch. 9-10, V.19 Ch. 1)*
*23.) Cruise Ship Murder Case (Case 065, V. 23 Ch. 4-9)*
*24.) Restaurant Elevator Murder Case (Case 073, V. 26 Ch. 5-7)*
25.) TWO-MIX Kidnapping Case (Case 040, V. 15 Ch. 4-6)
26.) Library Employee Murder Case (Case 026, V. 10 Ch. 6-7)
*27.) Old Photograph Murder Case (Case 079, V. 28, Ch. 3-5)*
*28.) Innocent Suspect Case (Case 066, V. 23 Ch. 10, V. 24 Ch. 1-2)*
*29.) Historical Actor Murder Case (Case 049, V. 17 Ch. 10 V. 18 Ch. 1-2)*
*30.) Stadium Indiscriminate Threatening Case (Case 055, V. 19 Ch. 9-10 V. 20 Ch.1)*

{6/10 — Decent}

31.) Richard’s Reunion Murder Case (Case 023, V. 9 Ch. 4-6)
32.) Mysterious Shadow Murder Case (Case 004, V. 2 Ch. 1-3)
*33.) Bear Hunter Murder Case (Case 078, V. 27 Ch. 10 V. 28 Ch. 1-2)*
34.) Loan Shark Murder Case (Case 041, V. 15 Ch. 7-9)
35.) Lex Band Vocalist Murder Case (Case 013 V. 5 Ch. 6-9)
*36.) Sealed Bathroom Murder Case (Case 057, V.20 Ch. 7-9)*
*37.) Wedding Day Murder Case (Case 061, V. 21 Ch. 11, V. 22 Ch. 1-3)*
38.) Diplomat Murder Case (Case 025, V. 10 Ch. 2-6)
39.) Suspicious Uncle Murder Case (Case 038, V. 14 Ch. 4-8)
*40.) School Play Murder Case (Case 072, V. 26 Ch.2-4)*
*41.) Famous Potter Murder Case (Case 045, V. 16 Ch. 10, V. 17 Ch.1-2)*
*42.) Mermaid’s Curse Murder Case (Case 080, V. 28 Ch. 6-10)*

{5/10 — Average}

*43.) Treadmill Murder Case (Case 060, V. 21, Ch. 8-10)*
44.) Holmes Enthusiasts Murder Case (Case 033, V. 12, Ch. 7-10, V. 13 Ch. 1)
*45.) Bus Hijacking Case (Case 082, V. 29 Ch. 3-5)*
*46.) Hotel Party Murder Case (Case 068, V. 24 Ch. 7-11)*
*47.) 3 K’s of Osaka urder Case (Case 084, V. 29, Ch. 9-11)*
*48.) Suspect Richard Moore Murder Case (Case 075, V. 27, C. 1-3)*
49.) Illustrator’s Assistant Murder Case (Case 035, V. 13, Ch. 5-7)
50.) Mantendo Bombing Murder Case (Case 032, V. 12, Ch. 4-6)
51.) Hatamoto Family Murder Case (Case 007, V. 3 Ch. 1-6)

{4/10 — Mediocre}

*52.) Sato’s Father Murder Case (Case o76, V. 27, Ch. 4-6)*
*53.) Stabbed Wallets Murder Case (Case 054, V. 19 Ch. 5-8)*
*54.) Music Box Mystery Case (Case 074, V. 26, Ch. 8-10)*
*55.) Blackout Murder Case (Case 067, V. 24, Ch. 3-6)*
56.) Triplets Father Murder Case (Case 034, V. 13 Ch. 2-4)
*57.) KAITO KID and the Magic Lovers Case (Case 056, V. 2 Ch. 2-6)*
*58.) Girl Clubbing Murder Case (Case 081 V. 28 Ch 11, V.29 Ch. 1-2)*

{3/10 — Bad}

59.) Shinkansen Bombing Case (Case 010, V. 4, Ch. 4-6)
60.) Conan Edogawa Kidnapping Case (Case 014 V. 5, Ch. 10-11, V.6 Ch. 1)
*61.) Dog Lover Kidnapping Case (Case 083, V.29 Ch. 6-8)
*62.) Blue Castle Murder Case (Case 058, V.20 Ch. 10, V. 21 Ch. 1-3)*
*63.) Lady in Black Kidnapping Case (Case 051, V. 18, Ch. 7-8)*
*64.) Mystery Writer Kidnapping Case (Case 053, v. 19 Ch. 2-4)*
*65.) North Star Murder Case (Case 062, V. 22, Ch. 4-7)*

{2/10 — Very Bad}

*66.) Elementary School Mystery Case (Case 043, V. 16, Ch. 4-5)*
67.) Medical Professors Murder Case (Case 027, V. 10 Ch. 9-1, V. 11 Ch. 1)
68.) Haunted Mansion Case (Case 006, V. 2 Ch. 8-10)
69.) Idol Locked-Room Murder Case (Case 003, V. 1, Ch. 6-9)
70.) Roller-Coaster Murder Case (Case 001, V. 1, Ch. 1)
71.) Magician’s Suicide Case (Case 037, V. 14 Ch. 1-3)

{1/10 — Least Favorites}

72.) Moon, Star, Sun Code Case (Case 031, V. 12, Ch. 1-3)
73.) Soccer Player’s Brother Kidnapping Case (Case 019, V. 7, Ch. 8-10, V. 8. Ch. 1)
74.) The Monthly Presents Case (Case 008, V. 3, Ch. 7-10)
*75.) Mysterious Clocks Mystery Case (Case 048, V. 17, Ch. 7-9)*
76.) Twin Brothers Case (Case 016, V. 6, Ch. 6-8)
77.) Kidnapped Daughter Case (Case 002, V. 1, Ch. 2-5)
78.) 1 Billion Yen Robbery Case (Case 005, V. 2 Ch. 4-7)
79.) Coffee Shop Murder Case (Case 029, V. 11 Ch. 5-7)
*80.) Serena Attempted Murder Case (Case 063, V. 22, Ch. 8-10)*
*81.) Cave Murder Case (Case 071, V. 25, Ch. 9-11, V. 26 Ch. 1)*
82.) ORO Treasure Map Case (Case 011, V. 4, Ch. 7-9)
83.) Amy Kidnapping Case (Case 022, V. 9, Ch. 1-3)
*84.) Hospitalized Robber Case (Case 047, V. 17, Ch. 6)*

Detective Conan Volume 15 (1996-1997) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the fifteenth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

When I initially set out to review and rank every single mystery in the vast multimedia Detective Conan franchise (of which there are nearly, or more than, 1000), I declared it’d only take me a few months. That was eight months ago. I repeat, there are around 1000 individual mystery stories in the Detective Conan franchise, and in eight months I’ve only managed to cover, starting with this post, a little over 40 of them. Initially, the project was blowing by at a breakneck pace, and I released ten of these posts in a single night, but somehow (I couldn’t imagine how) I’ve already started to burn-out on the series a little.

If I were only reading the stories, I could probably have completed the whole franchise by now. But I have to read the stories, manage my spreadsheet, do two write-ups on each series, compare my feelings on the stories to every other story in the franchise (an increasingly impossible task as I have to keep my opinions on 40, 50, 60, 100, 200, 500, 1000 different, individual stories sorted at all times), and then write these reviews! Somehow I thought that ranking 1000 stories would be an easy and relatively quick task…

But then I also have the curse of having my reactions to stories laid out before me, neatly enumerated and color-coded, and it makes me worry… For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rest of the review series, I rank every Detective Conan story (with the intent of giving new-comers a guided to-read list for the good mysteries) and sort them into categories “Great”, “Good”, “Average”, “Mediocre”, and “Bad”. I’ve noticed that a lot of stories have gone into Average and Good lately, but a lot less are going into Great than previously. Were my early reviews biased by the surrounding stories not being very good? Or are my new reviews biased by me tiring on the franchise? Is the series getting worse or is my ability to enjoy the stories whittling away? At some point, in a project like this, it’s hard to separate where my issues begin and the series’ issues end.

…I’m not sure what my point in all this is, but that all being said, I do want to clarify that I do enjoy the series and I want for people to be able to start reading it in the western mystery community. This project to create the World’s First and Most Comprehensive Detective Conan Reading Guide for Lovers of Mysteries will persist, as I do enjoy having it as a recurring feature of my blog. I hope that the few of you who keep up with my adventures in Detective Conan enjoy this as well, and I hope I can help some people get into this franchise and other Japanese mystery series as well.

Onto the volume!

Casebook 40 – TWO-MIX Kidnapping Case (Chapters 4-6) sees the Junior Detective League at a concert for the famous musical duo TWO-MIX. Though honored to meet half of the duo they love so much, the team being kidnapped ruins the festivities. The kidnappers hold TWO-MIX for a very bizarre ransom: if they don’t get a cassette tape, they will murder the musicians!

Though the question of “why would kidnappers bother holding a musical duo to ransom a cassette tape” is really interesting, at a certain point in the story the implications of the cassette tape and a song’s lyrics become fairly obvious. In a lot of ways, this resembles a typical Junior Detective League code-cracker, but it’s pretty simple and not too obtuse while still being fairly clever. Also the best of the kidnapping stories we’ve gotten so far, not at all a bad story to open with.

In Casebook 41 – The Loan Shark Murder Case (Chapters 7-9), Richard invites a loan shark for a game of mahjong, but when he doesn’t arrive for thirty minutes the group gets concerned! They soon walk to his office building to bring him over to the game, but upon investigating his offices, the group finds the loan shark poisoned to death! Worse yet, he’s inside of his personal office room, with his doors and windows locked from the inside and no clear way for the poison to get into the room! Once they find that the victim momentarily left the locked-room, they investigate the rest of the building but could still find no possible way for the poison to have gotten on his hands, making this an entirely impossible crime…

TomCat over at Beneath the Stains of Time called this one of his favorite Detective Conan impossible crimes. For me, it certainly had that potential, but the story does one little thing that ruins the impact of the solution and renders it only about half of what I think it could’ve been. Immediately expanding the scope of the impossible crime to “the victim touched something in the WHOLE OFFICE BUILDING to get poisoned, but how?” ends up reducing the solution to nothing more than “what predictable trait can the killer exploit to transfer poison to the victim’s hand” in a way that closely resembles an earlier impossible poisoning with a similar set-up and solution. In my opinion, the fact that the killer left the central locked-room is something that should’ve been saved for the denouement — it’s too clever an inversion of the problem of a locked-room murder to be squandered on being the set-up, instead of the trick. The mechanics of this one are good enough, but to call it an out-and-out locked-room mystery classic? I’m not so sure…

The volume rounds out with the feature-length story, Casebook 42 – Bonds of Fire Murder Case (Volumes 15-16, Chapters 10-3), in which Dosan Nagato, head of a financial consulting company, invites the Moore and Hartwell detective families to his home under the pretenses of requesting that they search for and discover his elementary school sweetheart. Among the family is Hideomi, the bandaged son of Dosan who is engaged to a young woman named Miyuki — Miyuki reveals that Hideomi was burned long ago, and the two of them are connected by “a destiny made of fire…”, as Hideomi saved her from the very same fire!

A celebration is held! Afterwards, as the gang is getting ready to retire for the night, Dosan’s other son Mitsuaki calls his father’s room, screaming that Hideomi is going to stab him and that he’s now walking towards the balcony! The party all run to the balcony to see the bandaged Hideomi covered in blood and holding a knife in his mouth.

This shocking sight spurs the family — except for Miyuiki, staying behind to protect her sleeping father — into action! By the time they were able to burst into the locked room, however, Hideomi had already climbed down from the balcony by a hook-rope… and Mitsuaki was pushed from the balcony, impaled on the spike-topped fence below.

More evidence lines up clearly implicating Hideomi in the murder. However, not entirely convinced, Harley and Conan start to investigate together. Finally, Harley reveals to Conan that the real reason Harley was summoned to the house that night was to investigate the sounds of running footsteps and thuds that Dosan had been hearing every night for quite some time. This leads the two to realize that this murder was premeditated, as the killer was clearly rehearsing his crime!

During further investigation, Miyuki gets into a fight with Nobuko, the eldest child and daughter of the Nagato fight. Nobuko slaps Miyuki, causing her to drop her pen into the fountain, which leads to the discover of the corpse of Hideomi, with rocks in his pockets along with a suicide note…

While initially the suspects reject the possibility of Hideomi committing suicide, his time of death is discovered to have been shortly after the murder of Mitsuaki… when every single character’s location was perfectly accounted for… Furthermore, the suicide note in Hideomi’s pocket was clearly written by his own hand, and there was no time to force him to write a fake! The only reasonable assumption with all of this evidence is that, after committing the murder of Mitsuaki, Hideomi took to the fountain whereupon he drowned himself…

This is a great story! While certain parts of the scheme are a tad obvious, the eventual resolution still makes this one of the best-hidden killers of Detective Conan so far! This story is loaded with lots of neat misdirection, and very smart clues. An aspect of Detective Conan — and, broadly, Japanese detective fiction — that is unique to itself is the killer rehearsing their own murder plot, thereby turning the rehearsal itself into a meaningful clues within the story. Not only does it make the unlikeliness of the killer’s plan working out easier to digest, it also creates new, novel types of clues that are unique to a story where the killer had to practice their crime.

The killer’s motive and the backstory of the case is also one of the better-foreshadowed in the franchise, being touching and melodramatic. The ending references one of the most well-regarded classic cases of Detective Conan as a source of trauma for Conan, who considers himself worse than a murderer for using his deductions to bully a culprit into committing suicide, making this a moving as well as neat piece of continuity and character development…

If this story is just a little less brilliant or inspired than some other stories, it makes up for it with a genuinely surprising and well-handled killer and a beautiful ending…

I gave some thought to my earlier dilemma I laid out at the beginning of the post. Where do my issues end and Detective Conan‘s begin? I wondered if maybe there weren’t any issues at all… I only paid attention to how infrequently stories ended up being “great” compared to a little earlier in the franchise, but something I neglected to pay attention to was how infrequently stories also ended up in “bad” compared to earlier in the franchise as well. As the stories go on, it’s more common for the cases to end up in “mediocre”, “average”, or “good”. It isn’t that the series has unilaterally gotten worse, it’s just that I’m seeing a statistical inevitability — the average story will be closer to average quality, and it is by necessity that there will be less extremes in quality going both ways.

Another great volume on the heels of a few less-than-great-ones made me realize that to expect across-the-board consistently good stories, even in a series I like, when there’s simply so much content, is unreasonable — there will be fluctuations, but also there will always be a home for Detective Conan in my heart as we return to these positive experiences. The inconsistency is the very point of this series — there will be occasional dips, rises, plateaus, stutters, nosedives, and up-shoots in quality. I’m putting up with the nightmare of the unpredictability of hundreds of stories so you don’t have to. I’m happy to say I’ve found my spark to keep working on the project again after a minor dilemma forced a hiatus.

Enough of the melodrama, though, onwards and upwards, and on to the updated ranking!

  1. ————THE GREAT————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Tengu Murder (CB#30 V11 C8-10)
  3. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  4. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  5. TV Station (CB$28 V11 C2-4)
  6. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  7. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  8. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  9. Bonds of Fire (CB#42 V15-16, C10-3)
  10. ————THE GOOD————
    Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  11. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  12. Elementary School Teacher (CB#39 V14-15 C9-3)
  13. Gomera (CB#36 V13 C8-10)
  14. TWO-MIX (CV#40 V15 C4-6)
  15. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  16. ————THE DECENT————
  17. Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  18. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  19. Loan Shark (CB#41 V15 C7-9)
  20. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  21. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  22. Holmes Enthusiast (CB#33 V12-13 C 7-1)
  23. Suspicious Uncle (CB#38 V14 C4-8)
  24. Illustrator’s Assistant (CB#35 V13 C 5-7)
  25. Mantendo Bombing (CB#32 V7 C4-6)
  26. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  27. ————THE MEDIOCRE————
    Triplets (CB#34 V13 C2-4)
  28. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  29. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  30. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  31. Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  32. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  33. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  34. ————THE BAD————
    Magician’s Suicide (CB#37 V14 C1-3)
  35. Moon, Star, Sun (CB#31 V12 C1-3)
  36. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  37. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  38. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  39. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  40. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  41. Coffee Shop (CB#29 V11 C5-7)
  42. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  43. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 14 (1996-1997) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the fourteenth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Volume 13 of Detective Conan was far and removed from being a classic of the series, but a long shot from being anywhere near bad either! It had a fantastically fun impossible disappearance of a giant monster in a movie studio, and a good inverted mystery only spoiled by a hokey howdunit angle. It’s hard to believe, but as of this volume we’ve only covered 39 of the 700+ Detective Conan stories! We’ll reach the 100 story landmark in Volume 34! There are 103 volumes of Detective Conan as of me writing this. I’m suddenly feeling a little queasy…

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

Volume 14 opens up with Casebook 37 – The Magician’s Suicide Case (Chapters 1-3). Conan is dealing with lovers’ spats from both his own parents as well as Richard and his recently-resurfaced ex-wife. Richard’s wife, in an attempt to make goodwill, has actually sent him an unsolicited client: the wife of a famous magician, who has appeared to commit suicide by swallowing a capsule of aconite, a powerful nerve agent. She just doesn’t believe he committed suicide, as he was a man of strong character, and was so excited for a gift he was getting someone… What’s more is that at the crime scene there was a particularly strange detail that might suggest murder: the clue of two cards stuck together, forming an odd shape.

Understanding the woman’s worries, the Moores and Conan go to the house of the late magician, where Conan is forced to solve the crime and find the killer among his three live-in disciples, all the while Rachel breathes down his neck, looking for proof to confirm her suspicions that he might really be Jimmy Kudo, high school detective!

Sadly not a very interesting case. Clues are brought up and then immediately explained away, questions are brought up and then immediately answered, and frankly quite a few of these questions didn’t need to be answered right away, and would’ve made the mystery a bit more compelling if they hadn’t been. For example, this is technically kind of a semi-impossible “psychological impossibility”, similar to Father Ronald Knox’s “Solved by Inspection”, in which the victim apparently had every opportunity to escape the room and/or call for help after being poisoned, and yet he didn’t. It’s suggested that he might’ve been tied up, but they say that it would’ve left marks on his body. Conan immediately shows how the strings attached to puppeteer rings on his fingers would allow him to be bound without leaving marks on his body aside from the marks of the rings — and thus, the entire question of whether it’s murder or suicide dissolves, even though it would’ve made the story much more interesting if the reader had to soak in the question of how to prove that murder occurred, and been a fun clue to explain at the end of the story.

The rest of the story is just an underwhelming code cracking story with a dying message left in a phone receiver, and it’s another extremely tenuous dying message — probably the most tenuous so far, though. This one had some good ideas, but wasted them with its weirdly poor construction.

In Casebook 38 – The Suspicious Uncle Murder Case (Chapters 4-8), Jimmy’s mother Vivian saves him from a suspicious Rachel by claiming that he’s the child of a distant relative. Soon after, she sweeps Jimmy up and takes him to meet the family of an old friend of hers, Hiromi Yabuuchi, whose father Yoshichika has recently passed away. Conan was brought along, unbeknownst to the Yabuuchis, to resolve a particularly troubling matter… the identity of their so-called “Uncle”, Yoshifusa.

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

Recently, every member of the Yabuuchi has noticed some strange behavior from uncle Yoshifusa ever since he returned from his overseas trip to Brazil with a friend named Carlos. They believe that this man isn’t actually Yoshifusa at all, but in fact an impostor who killed the real Yoshifusa in Brazil and has come to steal his slice of the inheritance! Being the only other person who saw the uncle regularly, albeit long ago when they were children, Hiromi summoned Vivian Kudo to help elucidate the matter.

Upon learning that Yoshifusa got a scar on his leg playing softball, Conan immediately concocts a plan to reveal whether or not this is the true Yoshifusa, by having someone deliver him tea and “accidentally” spill it on his legs, checking for the scar when they go to wipe it up. Lo and behold, they do uncover the scar, proving that this is Yoshifusa! The angered uncle calls his relatives vultures, revealing that the real reason he came back from Brazil was not because he was an impostor, but because he’d gotten a threatening letter telling him that he would die if he came back! Not to be deterred, he did come back… but with Carlos, not as a friend, but a bodyguard!

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

The deceased Yoshichika’s second wife Machiko leaves for the night to attend a friend’s wedding rehearsal, sparking some discourse about her predecessor, the now-dead first Mrs. Yabuuchi. Apparently she fell down a well, dying immediately, and was found clutching a camellia to her chest. A man at her funeral accused the entire Yabuuchi family of lying, and having murdered her! The family naturally insists that her death was merely an unfortunate accident……

But when Machiko’s body later turns up, tossed into a well, clutching a camellia in her hands and stabbed in the chest, the family suddenly realizes that the man who accused them of killing the Mrs. Yabuuchi must be there to kill them all! After all, Machiko called the family from the rehearsal an hour before her body was discovered. Seeing as it would take nearly an hour for her to drive home, anyway, it’s determined that during the time she must’ve been murdered everyone was together in the living room… proving that, indeed, they’re being haunted by an outsider.

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

Nonetheless, the family insists on continuing with the reading of the will, but as its underway a crossbow attached to a timer fires, but misses hitting, uncle Yoshifusa. Suddenly, Conan has all the information he needs to explain all of these deaths!

A pretty decent feature-length Conan with a lot of good but also a lot of not-so-good elements going on. Overall, it’s a pretty well-constructed mystery story, with all of the natural suspense, build-up, questions, answers. It would just help more if the plot here wasn’t so bogstandard.

The murder of Machiko Yabuuchi is fairly obvious, as it turns on a pretty basic alibi trick that nearly every alibi established by a phone call relies on. While there is a fairly clever piece of misdirection with how the story inverts the alibi trick in a neat way, the crude and obvious clues should immediately give it away. The body’s connection to the previous Mrs. Yabuuchi, and that entire subplot, is a lame red herring that doesn’t amount to anything.

The attempted murder of Yoshifusa is a simple matter that’s resolved immediately, but there is a neat, literally “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” verbal clue. Although I do think this is pretty unbelievable for this type of clue, as I think there’s a few ways to infer or intuit the information that, according to Conan, only the killer could have known.

The most interesting element of the story is the identity of the uncle and his bodyguard Carlos, which does end up tying back into everything in a neat and satisfying way when the will is finally read. This is only debatably fairplay but still turns on a very clever visual clue.

A technically well-constructed story let down by crude cluing and a fairly uninspired plot, with only a few minorly clever bits scattered throughout. Not at all bad, but definitely one of the most unremarkable feature-length Conan stories we’ve gotten in a while.

Following this up is, I believe a first for this series, the second feature-length story in a row with Casebook 39 – The Elementary School Teacher Murder Case (Volumes 14-15, Chapters 9-3). When Rachel, Conan, and Serena go skiing, they’re accosted by a group of handsome men claiming to be skiing instructors. Serena, boy-crazy as she is, is immediately taken with them, but when the three’s old elementary school teacher Ms. Yonehara shows up, she reveals that these two “skiing instructors” are, in fact, her co-workers at the elementary school.

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

Excited to see some of her old students, Ms. Yonehara invites the kids to hang out for a meal and talk. But when the group of teachers realize that the man whom they presume arranged the trip, Mr. Sugiyama, hasn’t shown up yet and that a blizzard is coming, they decide to go ahead to their rented cabin to help him. Only, instead, they end up getting caught in the blizzard, and Mr. Sugiyama is nowhere to be found… Amidst the worry, a reporter claiming to know secrets about a death from three years ago, and also that murders will occur this night, appears at their doorstep and forces his way into their hovel.

While the group is trying to forget the ominous omen and prepare a warm cabin for themselves to sleep in, Ms. Yonehara is strangled in her bedroom! Fortunately, she survives, as Serena interrupted the would-be killer… who proceeded to attempt to strangle her, and again fail upon being interrupted by the rest of the group. An open window and footprints indicate that the assailant ran from the room, back to the front door of the cabin, and inside… establishing that they are among the group of people.

Equally surprising, however, is the character “Mi” written on Yonehara’s hand in lipstick… and “Na” on Serena’s…

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

While the group is together, warming up in front of the fire, the doorbell rings. Although wary, the door is opened, revealing Mr. Sugiyama… long-dead, having fallen against the doorbell, with snow against his back! Clearly, he was arranged there by somebody, and yet when this occurred everyone was together! On his hand, the character “ko” is written. It occurs to everyone that the three characters spell out “Minako”, the name of a seven year old girl who killed herself in her elementary school homeroom three years ago… This alarms teacher Mr. Shimoda, who starts screaming “I had nothing to do with it!” before locking himself in his room.

…Only, of course, in no time the body of Mr. Shimoda is discovered, murdered by rope-strangulation in the upstairs of the cabin, with the rope impossibly disappearing from the guarded floor, even after a thorough search of every room and every person’s belongings. Now, Conan is on the hunt for a particularly clever killer who can vanish rope into thin-air and remotely move corpses..!

Screenshot from anime provided by Detective Conan World wiki.

A very good return to form for feature-length Conan stories. The trick for the body-moving is, to my knowledge, fairly unique, and takes advantage of the setting in a very clever way! The impossible disappearance of the rope also has a very neat solution. Both tricks rely on physical artifice to accomplish, and there isn’t a lot of misdirection at play in either, which does make them a little less fun, but nonetheless clever.

However, the cluing and misdirection in this one were all a little crude. After the two impossible problems are established, Conan pretty neatly and quickly resolves them each with a single, simple, straight-forward clue. The clues aren’t esoteric at all, and it’s unlikely the reader will struggle to put two-and-two together at least roughly, either. I also think the misdirection surrounding the failed attacks on Serena and Ms. Yonehera is a pretty obvious old dodge that ends up both signaling the killer’s identity and also incidentally lampshading the trick for disappearing the rope.

All told, this is still a pretty darn good story for the set-up and solutions alone, both of which are pretty clever and neat, but it’d be a much better story if the reasoning, clues, and misdirection were all a little stronger. One of the better feature-length stories we’ve gotten in a minute, though, and the killer’s motive is touching, and the story behind the suicide genuinely haunting.

Another uneven volume, though it does, like the previous one, round itself out on a high-note with a pretty competently-constructed and clever impossible crime story! Not a bad one, but another one I wouldn’t recommend for anyone who isn’t a signed-on Detective Conan fan. There’s not too much here in the realm of plot-relevancy, though you’ve probably noticed I keep forgetting to note what stories are and are not relevant to the overarching story of Conan. I mainly do this because I know my readers aren’t really going to want to follow the Conan lore from beginning to end one way or the other, and the story-relevant cases tend to not be very good mystery stories anyway, at least from what I’ve seen. In general, I read Detective Conan as an episodic series that occasionally gets interrupted by lore.

The ranking of stories has changed! I realized that having three tiers for “good”, “decent”, and “bad” was a pretty insufficient ranking system, as it definitely under-sold some stories that were better than decent, but not quite on the same level as masterpieces of the series, or it oversold some series by putting them in the same rank as stories much better than them. So instead, I’ve updated the ranking to have five tiers. Great, Good, Decent, Mediocre, Bad. I think this is much more accurate and better reflects my feelings on some stories. I’d say everything from “decent” upwards is generally worth reading for signed-up fans. A “good” story is a very solid entry that I think people should try to read if they can. A “great” entry is a story I believe mystery fans should go out of their way to read.

  1. ————THE GREAT————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Tengu Murder (CB#30 V11 C8-10)
  3. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  4. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  5. TV Station (CB$28 V11 C2-4)
  6. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  7. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  8. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  9. ————THE GOOD————
    Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  10. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  11. Elementary School Teacher (CB#39 V14-15 C9-3)
  12. Gomera (CB#36 V13 C8-10)
  13. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  14. ————THE DECENT————
  15. Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  16. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  17. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  18. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  19. Holmes Enthusiast (CB#33 V12-13 C 7-1)
  20. Suspicious Uncle (CB#38 V14 C4-8)
  21. Illustrator’s Assistant (CB#35 V13 C 5-7)
  22. Mantendo Bombing (CB#32 V7 C4-6)
  23. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  24. ————THE MEDIOCRE————
    Triplets (CB#34 V13 C2-4)
  25. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  26. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  27. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  28. Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  29. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  30. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  31. ————THE BAD————
    Magician’s Suicide (CB#37 V14 C1-3)
  32. Moon, Star, Sun (CB#31 V12 C1-3)
  33. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  34. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  35. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  36. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  37. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  38. Coffee Shop (CB#29 V11 C5-7)
  39. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  40. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 13 (1996) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the thirteenth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Detective Conan is a wildly imaginative series at it’s heights, but it’s also a huge franchise. Like I mentioned way back in On Some of the Best Mysteries Ever Written and the Puzzle of Why You’re Not Reading Them, this massive multimedia monster has over 700 distinct mysteries in just it’s manga and anime series alone (this not counting novels, video games, movies, and more). Statistically, many of them have to be good, many of them have to be bad, and many will be… so-so! And you will be getting a lot of so-so back-to-back with a series this massive, it’s just the way of things.

Volume 12 was fine, with two… pretty decent stories and one bad one, and it’s easy to get disheartened when volumes 6 to 11 had so many back-to-back masterstrokes of mystery plotting just for Detective Conan to seemingly take a turn back towards the mediocrity we criticized the early entries for. I’m staying optimistic though! We’re only 10% of the way through the series, there’s no way we’ve seen all of the good Detective Conan has to offer.

In Casebook 34 – The Triplets Murder Case (Chapters 2-4), Rachel and Conan are spending the day at Serena’s sister Ayako’s home to meet Ayako’s soon-to-be father-in-law. But after a night of a sports game, petty squabbling, and drama, the Moores and the girls get ready to turn in and sleep when they look out of the window and spot Ayako’s fiance Yuzo Tomizawa, wearing a beanie to cover his hair, murdering his father with a rock! They immediately go to the police, but while they’re trying to report what they witnessed… two young men who look exactly like Yuzo appear, revealing that what the group really saw was one of identical triplets committing the murder..!

It’s a three-suspect-alibi-check, and it’s hard to do these poorly. The clues and reasoning pointing to the killer are always at least fine, and there are some decent hints here and there in this story. I appreciate that modern technology is being utilized in these plots, though the trick in this story is the most boring, cheap, and straight-forward way to do it. The framing of the three suspects as triplets doesn’t really contribute much of anything. Not exceptionally bad, not exceptionally good. Just… generally not at all exceptional.

Kenjin Hanaoka is a respected painter who has, in fact, been passing off the works of his apprentice Izumi Chono as his own. Blackmailing him with this information, Izumi has pressured Kenjin into a romantic relationship with her and to support her unconditionally. One day, though, Kenjin finally ends up bludgeoning his young apprentice to death… But now he needs an alibi!

Kenjin quickly runs over to his own office, where Richard Moore and Conan are waiting. He proceeds to “receive a call” from Chono, whereupon he urges her not to jump and to calm down! And at the end of this conversation, the entire group sees Chono falling from her balcony, many blocks away from the office, having apparently committed suicide..!

The police are quick to rule this a suicide, as there was nobody else in the apartment or on the balcony when she fell and there’s no evidence of any kind of trick at place, but Conan quickly spots an odd detail on the corpse that immediately tells him that this was a murder! He suspects, Kenjin, but needs to figure out how he orchestrated her fall from miles away..! How can Conan bring guilt home to the killer in Casebook 35 – The Artist’s Apprentice Murder Case (Chapters 5-7)?

This is the third proper inverted mystery Detective Conan has dealt with, after two fantastic outings in The Tenkaichi Fire Festival Murder Case (Volume 6-7, Chapters 9-1) and The TV Studio Murder Case (Volume 11, Chapters 2-4), and unfortunately this is the first slip-up for this particular series of Conan cases.

As an inverted mystery, it’s perfectly good and functional. All of the clues that lead to the killer’s ultimate demise and the trap inadvertently set-up from the very beginning of the story are good and clever. The actual inverted mystery element of the story works very well!

Where this story sadly trips up is that, like the previous two inverted mysteries in the franchise, it’s also a howdunit, because we don’t how the killer performed the trick to give themselves an airtight alibi, making their guilt appear impossible… The alibi trick in this one is particularly bad, just turning on a mechanism simultaneously convoluted and uninspired. It’s such a sour note that it genuinely does spoil the rest of what was otherwise another pretty good inverted mystery outing for Detective Conan. By all means, read this for the inverted mystery if you can put up with the frankly awful howdunit element.

Casebook 36 – The Gomera Murder Case (8-10) has the Junior Detective League attending a tour at a filming studio for the Gomera franchise of kaiju (giant monster) movies. Conan is frustrated with his young friends’ inability to distinguish reality from fiction as they continue to assume that Gomera is a real monster who stars in all of these movies. So, naturally, the kids are horrified when it seems like their hero and idol, the real-life Gomera, appears to commit a murder right in front of them, stabbing a producer in the chest! Gomera proceeds to kick over a paint can, lumbering off down the hallway and leaving a trail of footprints behind him as he goes. As the kids chase Gomera, they follow his footprints to the roof of the studio… where he appears to have impossibly vanished! Looking over the side of the roof, they see the Gomera costume lit on fire, but the culprit was obviously nowhere nearby, even though it’d be impossible for him to have vanished without being seen!

I really like this one. No, the impossible crime isn’t really all that ingenious, and it’s fairly easy to solve, but this story is just super fun. I love the setting, and the way the murder is framed in such a way it looks like a scene from a kaiju film like Godzilla! The Junior Detective League is actually pretty charming in this setting, too, since their naivete contributes to the story in an extremely natural way. The impossible crime isn’t too terribly bad, either, even if a little obvious. Just a good, fun story with a lot of charm and personality. A guilty pleasure of mine.

An uneven volume on all accounts, but it really did round out with an incredibly pleasant impossible crime at a movie studio. This volume is on average still better than early Conan — ten volumes ago, a story like Gomera would’ve been seen as a masterpiece! No, this isn’t a volume I’d recommend you go out and read unless you’re a signed-on Detective Conan fan and want to read all of the gimmick stories (impossible crimes, inverted mysteries, etc…), but it isn’t bad at all and ends on a positive note that bodes well for the remainder of the franchise’s run.

  1. ————THE GOOD————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Tengu Murder (CB#30 V11 C8-10)
  3. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  4. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  5. TV Station (CB$28 V11 C2-4)
  6. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  7. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  8. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  9. Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  10. Gomera (CB#36 V13 C8-10)
  11. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  12. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  13. ————THE DECENT————
    Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  14. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  15. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  16. Holmes Enthusiast (CB#33 V12-13 C 7-1)
  17. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  18. Illustrator’s Assistant (CB#35 V13 C 5-7)
  19. Mantendo Bombing (CB#32 V7 C4-6)
  20. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  21. Triplets (CB#34 V13 C2-4)
  22. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  23. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  24. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  25. ————THE BAD————
  26. Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  27. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  28. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  29. Moon, Star, Sun (CB#31 V12 C1-3)
  30. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  31. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  32. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  33. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  34. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  35. Coffee Shop (CB#29 V11 C5-7)
  36. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  37. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 12 (1996) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the twelfth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Volume 11 may have a weak plot-chapter in the middle of it, but that doesn’t detract from the utter brilliance of the two stories sandwiching it on either side. First, a very fun inverted mystery set on a detective-themed reality talk show, and finally a brilliantly technical Soji Shimada-esque impossible hanging in a temple. It’s easy to see that Detective Conan has come a long way from its modest beginnings, back when I had to give moderated praise just to avoid a long series of back-to-back negative reviews. There have been many stories I think people should go out of their way to read, even if they have no interest in Detective Conan as a franchise… The Moonlight Sonata Murder Case (Casebook #18 Volume 7 Chapters 2-7) in particular is a classic feature-length mystery story with a brilliantly simple alibi trick that beautifully plays on the fact the story is a serial killing. Many of the shorts are also very clever short-form mysteries that I think anyone could do worse than to go out of their way to read.

If there’s ever a mediocre volume, it’s not at all representative of the overall quality of the series at this point, and it’s just a minor roadbump in a usually brilliant adventure…

Screenshot from the manga series provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Casebook 31 – Moon, Star, Sun Code Case (Chapters 1-3) has Dr. Agasa humoring the Junior Detective League by setting up a fake scavenger hunt with them, with fake clues and everything… But when they get to the house where this is set up, a more sinister scene awaits them, with the house having clearly been occupied since before Dr. Agasa came to set up his scavenger hunt… Conan realizes that something must be hiding in the house, with carvings of the moon, star, and sun scattered throughout the house clearly indicating a code…

This is a Junior Detective League Code-Cracking story. No, it’s not very good, though I think it’s the most tolerable. The clue is a simple cipher and it, strictly speaking, makes an attempt at playing fair with the reader (I know enough Japanese to understand the cipher and feel stupid for not figuring it out, at least). Still, it’s… a Junior Detective League story, and a code-cracking story. It’s the least bad of a pretty rotten bunch.

In Casebook 32 – Mantendo Bombing Murder Case (Chapters 4-6), Richard Moore visits a video game exhibition to play the new mystery game inspired by the famous exploits of this real-world Superdetective, but the festivities are interrupted when Conan sees a member from The Organization at the hotel. Upon chasing him down to the bathroom and attempting to eavesdrop, Conan is nearly killed by a bomb which does unfortunately kill the Organization member…

Screenshot from the manga series provided by Detective Conan World wiki

I was surprised by how much this story conducted itself like a traditional whodunit once Conan determined that the bombing was targeted, rather than indiscriminate. There are some decent clues, some obvious clues, but all-told it’s still a pretty classical tale of ratiocination in spite of the very gritty, modern murder method.

The story does lay down a lot of obvious clues, which will correctly lead you to a half-complete resolution, but fortunately the solution is just a step more complicated and has one pretty neat hint. Nothing here stands out as particularly brilliant — it’s just a pretty solid outing for the franchise. Not bad, but also not worth seeking out with the express intent of reading this story especially.

One hugely disappointing element to this story is that the game exhibition setting was wasted. It’s a very unique, exclusively modern setting, and to see a mystery centered entirely around video games would’ve been interesting. The murder ultimately could’ve happened at any hotel under any pretense and it probably would’ve functioned exactly as well with no major alterations. Alas…

Screenshot from the manga series provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Casebook 33 – Holmes Enthusiasts Murder Case (Chapters Chapters 7-10, Volume 13 Chapter 1) takes place at a meeting of Arthur Conan Doyle enthusiasts, during which participants are made to take a 1000-question quiz on the author’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes, with the grand prize being a first edition of A Study in Scarlet, the debut of Holmes! But during the meeting, the coordinator appears to commit suicide by driving off a cliff…

This one is another decent one. There’s two murders, and both have some minorly clever elements. The first relies on a biological trick, which I don’t particularly care for, and the second is a pretty neat way of inducing death. The “special setting” here is… somewhat utilized, I suppose, though mostly just to create a Macguffin, which is essential for establishing a potential motive as well as the second murder method. There are a lot of “essential questions” that are explained away with chance, and aren’t very interesting.

There’s enough good here, but it’s just decent. Another one that’s not worth seeking out, but decent enough if you’re hell-bent on reading every Conan story and reviewing them on your blog like some sort of weirdo.

Volume 12 was… not great at all. One very bad story, two decent stories… No, it isn’t bad, and it’s still better than the average quality we were getting early in the series, but this still isn’t a volume to seek out. Just another bookshelf filler for series collectors, and definitely disappointing after the recent masterpieces we’ve been seeing.

The ranking has changed, with Poisoned Bride Attempted Murder being raised quite a few ranks.

  1. ————THE GOOD————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Tengu Murder (CB#30 V11 C8-10)
  3. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  4. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  5. TV Station (CB$28 V11 C2-4)
  6. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  7. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  8. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  9. Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  10. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  11. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  12. ————THE DECENT————
    Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  13. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  14. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  15. Holmes Enthusiast (CB#33 V12-13 C 7-1)
  16. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  17. Mantendo Bombinb (CB#32 V7 C4-6)
  18. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  19. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  20. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  21. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  22. ————THE BAD————
  23. Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  24. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  25. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  26. Moon, Star, Sun (CB#31 V12 C1-3)
  27. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  28. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  29. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  30. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  31. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  32. Coffee Shop (CB#29 V11 C5-7)
  33. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  34. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Top 15 Favorite Impossible Crimes – Revision 0

I’ve never liked making “top favorite” lists in genres where I am so painfully aware of how little I’ve experienced in contrast to how much of it still exists waiting for me. Making a list of my favorite impossible crime novels specifically felt impossible because I’m just so, so, so aware of how many likely very good locked-room mysteries are sitting in my to-be-read pile right now. It’s worse, in fact, since I’ve started studying Japanese and have become more aware of a whole new world of obviously brilliant mystery novels. My personal horizon is so narrow, but the potential is so broad and it makes me feel like any list I make will come off as pedestrian. That’s why I’ve labeled this “revision 0”; I’m confident that by this time in 2023 the list will look immensely different. Maybe 33% of the entire list will be traded out by that time, I’m sure, and there will be at least one revision

This list is media non-specific. Television, movies, video games, comics may all apply. This is also why I’ve also settled on 15, rather than 10, because in the making of this list I realized that it was hyper-dominated by locked-room mysteries from Japanese novels and non-novel media, and I wanted to make some room for good, accessible, western media too. I’ll also only include one full entry from an author, including honorable mentions if necessary. Having qualified my list and the title of the post, my top 15 favorite impossible crimes, in no particular order, are…

Death of Jezebel – Christianna Brand (1949)

Anyone who has ever spoken to me will not be surprised by this being my immediate first inclusion on a list of favorite impossible crimes. Not only is Death of Jezebel my favorite Christianna Brand novel, not only is it my favorite impossible crime novel, it’s simply my favorite Golden Age mystery novel ever written. Christianna Brand is in top-form at demonstrating her ability to build up entire false narratives and hoodwink you into them, to bait the audience into believing things without ever really saying or doing anything. A masterclass in misdirection, the murder of a woman in a locked-and-guarded tower during a play also features multiple grand mechanical and technical tricks that are clever, novel, and macabre. One of four Brand masterpieces that I think even people with no interest in impossible crimes should give a chance.

The Moai Island Puzzle – Arisu Arisugawa (1989), trans. Ho-Ling Wong (2016)

The impossible shooting that occurs in this novel is a very strong alibi trick, but as good as it is this element of the story is only a small part of what makes The Moai Island Puzzle so strong a contender for fans of mysteries-as-a-puzzle. Puzzles buried within ciphers wrapped within riddles and tied-up with lateral thinking problems are the name of the game with this novel that celebrates puzzles as almost like an artform. A brilliantly intriguing and cerebral mystery novel.

Whistle Up the Devil – Derek Smith (1953)

Cringe-inducing romance and overly-convoluted climax aside, this is a homerun of an impossible crime novel. The principle murder of a man conducting a ceremony within a supposedly haunted room is just a good offering, with a complex arrangement of what still amounts to a quick series of little tricks we’ve all seen before, obvious bits and pieces and sleights of hand, but nonetheless enjoyably convoluted. What elevates this novel from good to fantastic is the knee-slapping devious and blastedly simple alibi trick employed in the secondary murder in a police station that nobody ever walked into or out of, aside from two men who were in each other’s view for every point of time that mattered. This short story-length masterpiece hiding in an otherwise just-above-average impossible crime makes this well-worth reading.

Here I want to give a quick honorable mention to Derek Smith’s other novel, Come to Paddington Fair, which if you were to ask me probably has a more brilliantly-plotted and conceived central murder, and a much more unique trick. I neglect to mention it as a proper entry on the list, because I felt like when you realized that coincidence doesn’t exist in a deliberately-plotted world the beginning of the story spoils the resolution in such a way that it makes much of the ensuing investigation feel redundant. Come to Paddington Fair is a fantastic idea, but unfortunately relies so majorly on an early Christie-esque dodge that, if you’re not hoodwinked by it, ends up toppling the whole story and every misdirection that comes after it. I noticed the initial dodge immediately, and pieced together the rest of the plot before the story had even hit its stride, and that did dock a few points for me. I still heavily recommend it, because while I feel like it spoils itself by being too clever by half, I think I’d always prefer a too-clever-for-itself story to its dull counterpart any day — it’s novel, unique, and a very intelligently plotted crime novel with a very innovative take on how to establish an impossible crime.

Murder in the Crooked HouseSōji Shimada (1982), trans. Louise Heal Kawai (2019)

Sōji Shimada is the Japanese locked-room murder, well known for his output of well over 50 novels featuring locked-rooms and other various impossible murders. His other major impossible crime offering, The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, which is also available in English is much more well-known and equally deserving of praise for its brilliance and grandiosity of mechanical scale, but I just adore Murder in the Crooked House. Sōji Shimada, I feel, is an author you’ll either adore or hate. His settings and solutions are brilliant and original, but also stretch credulity and highlight above anything else the puzzle. As a sheer lateral thinking exercise, Murder in the Crooked House contains one of the best impossible crimes in any novel ever, even if I can’t confidently say it’s one of the best novels containing an impossible crime. It is wholly original, complex, intricately-plotted, and taut, and a fantastic puzzle from end to end with a fantastic method for committing murder in a triple-locked room that more than makes up for its obvious culprit.

Time to Kill – Roger Ormerod (1974)

Roger Ormerod is an author who wrote well after the Golden Age had ended. Despite this, his novels had all of the fairly-clued plotting and cerebral misdirection and alibi tricks as a novel from the 1930s, blended with the aesthetic of a gritty contemporary PI novel. His debut novel is an impossible alibi problem — from the moment the murder is committed, we know who the killer is, but there’s one problem: the killer has an airtight alibi provided by the narrator himself and we have no idea how he committed this murder under such impossible-for-him circumstances. I used to think that there were only three basic explanations for the impossible alibi, but Time to Kill offers a fourth possibility that to this day is still my favorite explanation for this particular problem. It perfectly sets up Ormerod’s thorough and educated understanding of Golden Age-styled alibi trickery almost in the style of Christopher Bush — a lost disciple of the puzzle mystery that more people should be seeking out.

Till Death Do Us Part – John Dickson Carr (1944)

Despite being a self-styled disciple of the impossible crime problem, I’m actually incredibly ashamed to admit that my reading into John Dickson Carr’s oeuvre is very limited! My first review on this blog was me airing out how little I enjoyed The Case of the Constant Suicides. Aside from that, I’ve only read a small handful of specially-recommended Carrs, only around 10 I think. I’ve been so caught-up in reading other impossible crime novels that I’ve neglected to honor the master himself! Let this be a wake-up call to me to get back to Carr…

Till Death Do Us Part is absolutely the most brilliant locked-room conceived by Carr that I’ve read. Preceded by expectation, nobody needs to know what I have to say about this book. It’s damnably simple and clever, the puzzle is brilliantly conceived, the cluing clever and well-done.

Jonathan Creek (Season 1 Episode 2) “Jack in the Box” – David Renwick (1997)

Jonathan Creek is a late 90’s-early 2000s BBC drama featuring the titular magician’s assistant who uses his knowledge of stage illusions to solve locked-room murders and impossible crimes. I think the series is incredibly hit-or-miss, containing both some of my favorite and least favorite locked-room mysteries ever conceived, and it might be a little worrying that in Jonathan Creek‘s 17 year run I think the show peaked in its second episode ever…

There are more than a small handful of fantastic impossible crimes in this series, actually. The Christmas special “Black Canary”, the first episode of season two “Danse Macabre” are both also great, but “Jack in the Box” really perfected the formula right out of the gate with a satisfying and original explanation to the shooting of a man in a locked-and-sealed bunker that entirely inverts the very premise of a locked-room murder as a question of how the killer escaped from the room.

The Great Ace Attorney 2: The Resolve of Ryūnosuke Naruhodō (Case 3)
“The Return of the Great Departed Soul” – Shū Takumi (2017)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a Japanese mystery video game series, one game of which I’ve reviewed on this blog. In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and all of its subsequent spinoff titles, the player takes on the role of a lawyer tasked with proving the innocence of clients falsely accused of murder. Using a point-and-click interface, the player investigates crime scenes, interviews wacky witnesses and suspects, and collects evidence. The next day, the player goes to court and is tasked with cross-examining witnesses who are either grossly mistaken about what they saw or hell-bent on seeing your client behind bars and deliberately lying. Through a series of simple question prompts, the player finds lies in testimony statements, presents evidence to expose the lies, and then is loosely-guided on a series of Ellery Queen-esque sequences of deductions and logic where the player explains why the lie was told or the mistake was made and then what the truth of the situation is. By the end of every case, the real killer is discovered and your client is saved from wrongful imprisonment!

In the spinoff series The Great Ace Attorney the format is shaken up by placing the player in the role of Phoenix Wright’s ancestor Ryūnosuke Naruhodō, a Japanese lawyer who teams up with the Great Detective Herlock Sholmes in Victorian London. The third case of the second game of this particular series is a very unique take on the impossible crime problem, inspiring one of my 15 categories of impossible crimes — the impossible technology problem!

Your client is a scientist who was presenting an instantaneous kinesis machine, a piece of technology that is capable of molecularly dissembling any human subject and then reassembling them somewhere else, allowing them to teleport from one location to another in the blink of an eye! Unfortunately, during the presentation, his assistant and test subject was teleported to the wrong location. While he was meant to be transported to the INSIDE of a nearby glass tower, the test subject was instead manifested a few dozen feet in the air above the tower, whereupon he fell through the walls of the tower. The police were summoned only to find the man stabbed to death by a screwdriver through the heart. Since the tower was totally inaccessible to anyone until the police arrived, it’s determined that the only person who could’ve committed this murder is your client, who must’ve stabbed the victim before teleporting him away. In order to prove your client’s innocence, you need to prove how the teleportation could’ve been faked! But how else can you explain a man moving hundreds of feet into the air in less than a second…

The solution to the teleportation isn’t at all difficult to figure out, but there’s a second and third puzzle hiding in the background of this case that makes it brilliant. The true explanation for the murder when you get past the impossible problem is genuinely shocking, and there are quite a few plot threads that connect this murder to an ages-old serial killing that the rest of the game’s narrative is concerned with. A brilliantly innovative presentation of impossible crimes, the method of connecting this subplot to the overarching narrative of the game is a masterstroke of writing, and a somewhat obvious impossible solution doesn’t stop the mystery from offering up some genuine surprises. One of the best cases from a very, very good mystery series.

Death Among the Undead – Masahiro Imamura (2017) trans. Ho-Ling Wong (2021)

One of the most defining features of the shin-honkaku movement that I feel like westerners don’t see from just the translations we get from Vertigo Pushkin and Locked Room International is the amount of authors who love to experiment with form, style, and genre without betraying the underlying and ever-present element of a complex, cerebral puzzle. Hybrid mysteries, the sort we get from Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi mysteries like The Cave of Steel, are even more present in modern Japanese mystery writing than they ever were over here! There are authentically Golden Age-styled mysteries written to take place within the confines of a world that operates under the rules of a fantasy roleplaying video game, or mysteries set within fantasy worlds. There’s a short story collection about a group of murderers who share stories of their exploits over an internet board and every story is a different member of the board. And then there’s Masahiro Imamura’s breakout hybrid mystery, Death Among the Undead, which combines the locked-room mystery with a zombie apocalypse!

Death Among the Undead is a brilliant piece of work with three absolutely stunning impossible crimes that all three offer up entirely novel and unique explanations to the problem of murders committed in locked-rooms either provided by or enhanced by the presence of a horde of brain-eating undead! This novel is an absolute jaw-dropper of plotting genius that can confidently stand with its head held high among any classic of the genre. It is no less a classic, puzzle-driven impossible crime story for the presence of zombies — in fact, I’d say it’s even more so, as the rigid rules that the zombies abide by offer an extra layer of complexity and reasoning. Simply fantastic.

Death in the House of Rain – Szu-Yen Lin (2006) trans. (2017)

Death in the House of Rain is a dangerous impossible crime novel, because its an idea that I feel like could’ve easily failed. It doesn’t succeed on the strength of its core idea alone, but on the framing of its idea through the personification of fate and fortune as almost its own character, which arguably is the true killer, above anyone else who might’ve committed murder in the story. The solutions to the three first disparate locked-room murders are all connected by a single thread that is very devious and devilishly simple, brimming with an original idea whose reliance on coincidence could’ve easily failed if not for the underlying theme of fortune. It’s, in fact, an idea I proposed in my List of 50 Locked-Room Solutions which people often privately criticized me for because no impossible crime existed which could claim to use the solution, so I’ll admit I’m a little biased from reading this book and getting that feeling of aha! I told you!.

A fourth impossible crime brilliantly rises from the resolution of the previous three as a connecting thread, and it’s just as good as you could hope. This novel is fantastic, but easily could’ve not been.

The Kindaichi Case Files Shin (Case 3) “The Prison Prep School Murder Case” – Seimaru Amagi (2006)

I actually know very little about the Kindaichi Case Files franchise or its sister series Detective School Q, having only organically read one or two mysteries from each of them. They weren’t bad at all, mind you! Honorable mention to Detective School Q‘s first proper murder mystery for being blindingly brilliant, actually! However, I was directed to this particular case by TomCat’s blog post on this very same topic, and reading it honestly reawoke my interest in the two franchises! This is ingenuity distilled into its purest form, plain and simple, with a grand, brilliant, and complex impossible alibi trick at the heart of it.

Both Kindaichi Case Files and Detective School Q are classic examples of the locked-room mystery puzzle plot in the realms of anime/manga series, and having read one of the best impossible crime stories of all time by sheer chance in these series I can easily recommend anyone and everyone to seek this series out and read it if they have even a tiny interest in locked-room mysteries. John Dickson Carr would be proud of these two detective series. I read this case in Japanese in the manga, but the anime adaptation is available in English for anyone curious!

Case Closed/Detective Conan (Anime-original, Episodes 603-605)
The Séance’s Double Locked Room Mystery Case – Chiko Uonji

Detective Conan, as I’ve mentioned on my post about the franchise, contains many classics of basically any form of Golden Age-styled plotting you can think of. Alibi problems, locked-room mysteries, inverted mysteries, Detective Conan could probably make a top 10 list of any of them. Between both the manga and the anime, Detective Conan has produced more than its fair share of strong impossible crimes, many of which could end up on a list like this. For anime-originals, honorable mention to The Cursed Mask Laughs Coldly, which I think is more inventive and innovative, but The Séance’s Double Locked Room Mystery Case narrowly won out for its intricate intertwining of two impossible crimes. A brilliant set of two locked-rooms that rely on each other for their solutions makes this case a stand-out for its uniqueness of plotting, and the solutions are nothing to sneeze at either, but trust me when I say there are probably at least seven other Detective Conan impossible crimes equally worth mentioning at some point or another…

“The Lure of the Green Door” by Rintarō Norizuki (1991) trans. Ho-Ling Wong (2014)

The standout story from international tour of impossible crimes, The Realm of the Impossible, “The Lure of the Green Door” is a locked-room mystery inspired by the premise of an old science fiction parable by English author H. G. Wells in which a man enters a green door to another world. In “The Lure of the Green Door”, a man is murdered in his locked-and-sealed study with a green door that isn’t locked but mysteriously cannot be opened… The solution is a physical trick that plays on an old concept, but it’s a startling unique take on the concept that I’m proud to have solved ahead of time. The scale of the solution is also great without detracting from the elegance of the trick! A masterpiece of the short-form locked-room mystery.

“The Clown in the Tunnel” by Tetsuya Ayukawa (1958) trans. Ho-Ling Wong (2020)

A clown commits a murder, is seen running into a tunnel, and then vanishes before he can appear from the other side!

Tetsuya Ayukawa is a Japanese author famous for crossing wires between impossible crimes and alibi problems. As the introduction to the The Red Locked-Room collection notes, Ayukawa often uses alibi tricks to establish impossible crimes, and locked-room tricks to establish alibis. This gimmick very often lends itself to old tricks being applied in unique, novel, and stunning ways, and “The Clown in the Tunnel” is the best example of this! An absolute stunning example of how an alibi trick can lend itself to an impossible disappearance, and one of the best stories from a very good collection.

“The Ginza Ghost” – Ōsaka Keikichi (1936) trans. Ho-Ling Wong (2017)

The Ginza Ghost is a fantastic collection of impossible crimes from early Japanese crime writer Ōsaka Keikichi. Despite it existing in the early eras of the honkaku school of plotting, this collection shows off an author who demonstrates marked ingenuity and genius, with ideas that are still novel nearly 90 years in the future. The best story in the collection is easily the title story, “The Ginza Ghost”, which features a murder inside of a locked tobacco shop where a woman appears to have killed another and then herself — however, mysteriously, the murderer appears to have died significantly before her victim, suggesting the presence of a ghost who committed the crime… Ordinarily, I don’t enjoy impossible crimes that rely so centrally on an accident for the illusion to function — I’m a sucker for cartoonishly intelligent criminal geniuses — but the accident in this case is so elegant, simple, and brilliantly unique that it’s impossible not to love it.

And there you have it, my 15 favorite locked-room mysteries, which is 66.6% Japanese, quite a few of which aren’t even from novels. I’m sure Ho-Ling doesn’t mind the free publicity. I don’t mind to seem biased, but there are just so many strong and ingeniously plotted mysteries in the Japanese honkaku and shin-honkaku schools of mystery writing… This list will definitely not last long, but I enjoyed making it.

Detective Conan Volume 11 (1996) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the eleventh in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Volume 10 of Detective Conan wasn’t the best of the volumes we had so far, but a far shot from the average quality we were getting earlier on in the series. While its third story was hurt significantly by a Japanese-centric clue, it was still absolutely ingenious. It also had the best Junior Detective League story so far in it, as well as a pretty decent locked-room mystery. Volume 11 comes with a good recommendation from Mr. Sands of Time himself, TomCat, boasting what he considers one of his favorite locked-room mysteries in the entire franchise…

Richard Moore is invited to a detective-themed talkshow, on which he’s asked to give a dissertation to the people on the work he does in solving murders. He gives a talk about the security features of cellular phones, and the show cuts to a murder mystery skit that the live studio audience has a chance to figure out themselves… During this skit the host of the show, Takashi Matsuo, calls his producer Michihiko Suwa and threatens to jump off of the roof. Suwa opens the window to the conference room in which he’s waiting to tell him to stop, and is immediately shot.

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

After the show, Suwa’s body is found inside of the conference room. Conan immediately suspects the host Matsuo, but there’s one problem: in order to get from the stage to the conference room would take nearly three times as long as the time Matsuo was offered, offering him an airtight alibi. Nonetheless, Conan doggedly sticks to his lead, and attempts to prove Matsuo’s guilt in Casebook 28 – The TV Station Murder Case (Chapters 2-4).

The TV Station Murder Case is another hum-dinger of an inverted mystery. Very similarly to the last inverted mystery, The Tenkaichi Fire Festival Murder Case (Casebook 17, Volumes 6-7 Chapters 9-1), this mystery has an element of howdunit. We do know who the killer is, and we do know roughly what their plan is, as we see it conducted from their perspective; however, we do not know how Matsuo managed to get from the stage to the conference room to commit the murder in the time allotted to him. The explanation is perhaps a little less inspired than in Tenkaichi, and is very unreliable in how it turns on the victim performing a very specific action in a very specific way, but it’s nonetheless fun and doesn’t detract from the overall experience in any meaningful way.

The way the killer is caught, like in the previous inverted mystery, is clever, but this story really shines in its denouement — Conan’s deductions are aired to the world as part of the mystery-themed talkshow, and he’s cheered on by the show’s massive audience as he corners the killer. It’s an unbelievably fun denouement that wraps up an unbelievably fun story.

Casebook 29 – The Coffee Shop Murder Case (Chapters 5-7) has Conan with Ran at a coffee shop, waiting for an unknown person, but when a woman is found murdered in a locked stall in the restroom, Conan is able to reduce the suspect list to three people…

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

I think this one is silly and just not very good. It’s a locked-ish room in presentation, since the mystery is “how could someone climb through the opening without getting covered in the victim’s blood”, but I think the trick used here, on top of not being very compelling, is just unreasonable and unnecessary in getting the desired effect. Maybe if I re-read this in the future I’d like it more, but I do not enjoy this mystery much at all as it stands. It’s just a killer

Conan gets helped by a lawyer who turns out to be Rachel’s mother, making it a plot-relevant story, unfortunately, so if you’re deep in the overarching Case Closed lore, then you’ll have to give this story a read.

Casebook 30 – The Tengu Murder Case (Chapters 8-10) has Conan and the Moores’ car breakdown outside of an old shrine where they’re taken in by monks. While there, they learn about a years-old murder that took place in that temple. A murder committed by a beast of Japanese legend, a Tengu… But upon probing into it, the Moores anger the head-monk, who tells them they will have to be on their way the very next day.

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Unfortunately, that night, the head monk is found killed in a way that resembles the old case… Strung up impossibly inside of a room dozens of feet high, fatally hanging from the ceiling beams. When it’s further proven that it’s nearly impossible for a human being to carry a body over those beams to hang him, it’s ruled that the death must be a suicide. But Conan is not convinced, and gets to work proving how the head monk could’ve been murdered!

Complaints that this was never proven to be an “impossible” crime and is more of a “wildly improbable” crime aside, this is an absolute whammy of an impossible crime! The eventual solution is one of those unreasonably high-scale mechanical solutions of the type you’d associate with Soji Shimada’s mysteries like The Murders in the Crooked House, and it is very inspired, if not a bit on the absurd side as well. I agree with TomCat’s prognosis that this story would only be tolerable in the form of a comicbook and would be a little hard to swallow as a novel written in the 19xx’s. Nonetheless, it was very satisfying, novel, and well-done, and easily one of the best stories in the series so far. It’s the first impossible crime in Detective Conan that I really feel strongly about.

Volume 11 has one of the worst stories we’ve seen so far, but it’s sandwiched between two of the absolute best. Since both fantastic stories start and conclude in this volume as well, I can easily recommend interested peoples find a copy for their bookshelves if they’re in the mood for a fantastic impossible crime and a fantastic inverted mystery. A fantastic volume and an easy recommendation.

  1. ————THE GOOD————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Tengu Murder (CB#30 V11 C8-10)
  3. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  4. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  5. TV Station (CB$28 V11 C2-4)
  6. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  7. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  8. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  9. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  10. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  11. ————THE DECENT————
    Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  12. Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  13. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  14. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  15. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  16. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  17. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  18. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  19. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  20. ————THE BAD————
    Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  21. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  22. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  23. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  24. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  25. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  26. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  27. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  28. Coffee Shop (CB#29 V11 C5-7)
  29. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  30. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 10 (1995-1996) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the tenth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Volumes 6 to 8 were a breath of fresh air for a series that started off so mediocrely. Although Volume 9 stumbled a bit, with a very uneven assortment of stories, it evened up by the end with a pretty good alibi trick inside of a decent, if underrealized, mystery tale. The average quality of the stories has improved considerably since the first few volumes, and I now found myself reading Detective Conan again casually, instead of beating out volumes “waiting for it to get good”. Even a mediocre story from this stage of the game is considerably better than a good story from the first three volumes…

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Volume 8 opens with Casebook 25 – Diplomat Murder Case (Chapters 2-6), in which a woman summons Richard to her husband’s study to help with a background check on her future daughter-in-law, who is “too perfect to be good”! However, when the gang arrives at the scene, they find that the husband, a diplomat, has been killed by a poison prick-pin! Worse yet, the room was locked-and-sealed, and when the murder must’ve occurred, not only did everyone have an alibi but one person, but the only keys to the door were either in the victim’s pocket or the wife’s pocket (who was away from the house).

While struggling to piece together the mystery, Conan struggles with a fierce fever. Worse yet, a new detective named Harley Hatwell has shown up and named himself Jimmy’s rival — and he’s about to walk into the killer’s trap and blow the whole case!

This one’s fun, I really like the introduction of Harley as having him bounce ideas off of Conan and also butt heads with him makes the reasoning/deduction segments of Detective Conan more engaging and fun. The mystery itself is a bit minor for a feature-length story, though, as a lot of the story was basically dedicated to the locked-room mystery’s false solution as well as setting up the final confrontation between Jimmy (Conan) and Harley.

The locked-room mystery is fairly basic. The solution is a decent reworking of an age-old trick. However, the way it’s applied here is a lot more elegant on account of the way the presentation of the locked-room is handled. It makes the killer’s actions more natural so that the age-old solution doesn’t quite jump out at you like it would if this story played it entirely like those other stories tend to… This reworking of this particular solution type also lends itself to some fun cluing.

This is a decent story. The introduction of Harley is significant, and the denouement is a very good scene, but the mystery plot is just mediocre.

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Immediately after this is Casebook 26 – Library Employee Murder Case (Chapters 6-8), the first story in the series to share chapters with another story, as chapter 6, the ending of Diplomat Murder Case is a direct tie-in to the beginning of this case (not that it matters to the plot).

Newly reinvigorated with the knowledge of how to return to his adult body, Jimmy accompanies the Junior Detective League on one last case where they investigate the disappearance and presumed murder of an employee… While there, they hunt for the secrets of the owner of the library while their life is in danger!

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Okay, fine! I really liked this Junior Detective League story! There’s a fairly-clued, if obvious, “Purloined Letter”-esque trick with the hiding place of a particular item in the story. The real puncher here, though, is the hiding place of the body, which is just mildly clever on its own, but is further elevated by a really clever piece of mathematic misdirection.

Not an astoundingly brilliant one, but I really enjoyed this one.

The volume ends on Casebook 27 – Medical Professors Murder Case (Volumes 10-11, Chapters 9-1), in which the Moores are stranded outside on a ski trip after Richard loses their lodge keys. The family is, fortunately, saved by a band of medical professors who invite them to spend the night at their private lodge. However, while there, the head professor under which the others study is murdered violently, and it appears he’s left behind a message identifying his killer…!

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

This one is ingenious in all of the ways that dying messages tend to be, but also absurd in all of the ways that dying messages tend to be. The message involves intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and language, and also demands you be reading the story in Japanese or else you just won’t get any of the clues that actually reveal the solution to you in the character names…

I think this one is wildly ingenious, but for some reason I just didn’t find it very satisfying. I give it points for cleverness, but I didn’t actually really enjoy this one.

Volume 10 is much more even than Volume 9! While it never quite reaches the highs of any of the volumes before it, there are no standout bad stories in this volume! This is all-around a good, balanced collection of Detective Conan tales.

  1. ————THE GOOD————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  3. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  4. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  5. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  6. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  7. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  8. Library Employee Murder Case (CB#26 V10 C6-8)
  9. ————THE DECENT————
    Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  10. Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  11. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  12. Diplomat Murder Case (CB#25 V10 C 2-6)
  13. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  14. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  15. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  16. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  17. Medical Professor (CB#27 V10-11 C9-1)
  18. ————THE BAD————
    Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  19. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  20. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  21. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  22. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  23. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  24. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  25. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  26. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  27. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 9 (1995) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the ninth in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

If you’ve been reading this series of reviews from the beginning, you’ll probably be struck by the fact that there has been a massive uptick in quality. For the first few volumes, I was giving metered, measured, and reserved praise to stories that were “good… for this point in the stories”. Since then, I’ve started throwing out words like “brilliant” and “classic” and making lofty comparisons to Brand and Christie. Volumes 6 to 8 have all been consistently on-point with only the occasional stinker among them. We can only hope that this upward trend will continue in Volume 9…

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

…which opens with Casebook 22 – Ayumi Yoshida Kidnapping Case (Chapters 1-3), my least favorite story in the series so far. The Junior Detective League are out playing hide-and-seek when Ayumi gets into the trunk of a suspected kidnapper-and-serial-child-murderer! The kids chase her down on Conan’s rocket skateboard as she describes sounds to them that give them clues to her location.

It’s a three chapter long chase scene with a joke ending that isn’t very funny. The descriptions of the locations are pretty obvious as to what they’re vaguely supposed to be. Worst story so far, there’s basically nothing of interest here worth reading for any reason. I really do not care for these Junior Detective League stories one bit. Hopefully there’s a really good one involving a library to look forward to in the next volume!

Casebook 23 – Kogoro Richard’s Class Reunion Murder Case has the Moores attending a reunion of Richard’s university judo club. Unlike many other clubs we will see in this series, there are no “two-year-old secret deaths we promised not to speak about!” In fact, the reunion goes pleasantly, with the members teasing Richard for his poor attendance, much banter ensues, and it’s clear the familial bonds of the Judo team are in tact even after 15 years!

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

After the team goes to the fireworks showing without Yumi Horikoshi, a member of the team, they return to find her in her room dead from a gunshot wound to the forehead. Based on the rigor mortis, she had to have died when everyone was together in the ping pong room earlier and everyone had an alibi…

I know this one is apparently a favorite of a lot of people’s, but I’m sorry to say I really didn’t think it was too great. Seeing Richard momentarily mature into a suitable detective to solve the murder was really fun, and the moment-to-moment detection as well as the cluing were all very well-done.

However, the problem is just a fundamental one with this kind of story. As I mentioned in my post on “impossible alibi problems”, there are two ways to construct a problem like this. One is “we know who the killer is, but we have no idea how they established an airtight alibi”, which features in Mysterious Shadow Case (Volume 2 Chapters 1-3). The other is “a murder committed when everyone has an alibi” — this story — and this premise only has arguably three or four total basic solution types. Unfortunately, the story also quickly reveals which of these types has to be at play, and the second that happens it basically just comes down to the minutiae of applying it, which in this case I really did not care much for, being a unique facepaint on what’s still a very old type of biological trick.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s, technically, a perfectly-constructed detective story, with cleverly-placed clues hinting at the true solution, including a very neat piece of Japanese folklore, and the solution’s unique application of an old premise lends itself to very clever cluing. This type of perfect composition is a mark many other Detective Conan tales miss, but, gun to my head, I’d prefer a story with flawed construction but brilliant heights and shocks like Night Baron Murder Case (Volume 8 Chapters 2-7). Nonetheless, this story just gets marks for being well-realized, even if I don’t believe it’ll bowl many people over with ingenuity or surprise.

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

The volume, being the first in a while to feature three stories, ends on Casebook 24 – Wealthy Daughter Murder Case (Volumes 9-10, Chapters 7-1). At a party hosted for a wealthy daughter to select her desired suitor for marriage, of which many of the guests are from the host’s old yachting club, many people’s car tires are slashed, scaring people into fleeing the party. The few who remain intend to finish the party and walk away with a new bride…

However, the festivities are finally disrupted when the body of one of the suits is found drowned in the fountain outside of the house! With the debutant missing from her own party and under suspicion when Rachel is the victim of a murder attempt in which her head is forced under the water in a bathroom sink, Conan is underway to find this would-be serial killer…!

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

I mentioned preferring brilliant heights with flawed construction, right?

There’s a very clever alibi trick at play here that, similar to Moonlight Sonata Murder Case (Volume 7 Chapters 2-7), effectively relies on the fact that it could only work in the context of a serial killing and would not be nearly as effective in a one-off murder. Both that story and this one ultimately feel like a case of the first two murders merely being a means to one big misdirection in the final murder, and it’s an interesting plotting device that I found neat and effective.

However, construction-wise, this story is just as weird and messy as the aforementioned Night Baron Murder Case, for a lot of the same reasons (see my review of Volume 8). There’s a scene where an old lady at the scene of the crime compare’s Rachel’s appearance to that of a young woman who drowned to death a few years ago (like every non-Judo club in the Detective Conan universe). The scene is presented with considerable weight and importance, but this little detail of Rachel’s resemblance to the dead girl is neither paid off nor followed-up on at any point in the remainder of the story. Similarly to Night Baron this also feels like two stitched-together premises — a murder at a yacht club reunion, and a murder at a groom-selecting ball. This is ultimately and most importantly a murder at a yacht club reunion, and the entire set-up of this party being meant for the selection of a young woman’s husband is a detail that gets laid at the wayside and never called-upon for any meaningful reason.

Nonetheless, I think of this story highly. I think the alibi trick is clever enough to save this story, although I think it’s a step below Night Baron in sheer brilliance and ingenuity, even if the construction is equally bizarre.

This volume started out rough, but managed to find its footing near the end. Nothing here that I’d say is a classic of the series worth going out of your way to read, but Wealthy Daughter is a good read for signed-up fans, and most people think more highly of Richard’s Reunion than I do, so maybe you will too…?

Now that I’ve broken the 20 stories mark, I’m going to start arranging these stories more clearly based on rough quality! I’m worried the ranking is getting a bit messy and hard to read though, so let me know if this knew formatting decision is good or if I should abandon it and just let the ranking speak for itself.

  1. ————THE GOOD————
    Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  3. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  4. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  5. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  6. Wealthy Daughter (CB#24 V9-10 C7-1)
  7. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  8. ————THE DECENT————
    Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  9. Kogoro Richard’s Reunion (CB#23 V9 C4-6)
  10. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  11. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  12. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  13. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  14. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  15. ————THE BAD————
    Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  16. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  17. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  18. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  19. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  20. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  21. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  22. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  23. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)
  24. Ayumi Kidnapping (CB#22 V9 C-13)

Detective Conan Volume 8 (1995) by Gosho Aoyama

(*Note, although this is the eight in this series of reviews, I only encourage you to read my review of the first volume to get a summary of the series and my preamble about the reviews. It is not necessary to read any other entry in the series besides the first)

Back-to-back Volumes 6 and 7 gave us some absolute stunners. From a brilliant inverted mystery at a fire festival, to a somber murder to the beat of a piano, to the shocking murder-by-swordfight of an art collector, Detective Conan has started to produce some genuinely great stories that fans of detective fiction would be doing themselves a disservice to ignore…

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

Volume 8 opens with Casebook 20 – The Night Baron Murder Case (Chapters 2-7), as the Moores attend a bizarre competition at a hotel. A person will dress up as the fictional phantom thief, Night Baron, and roam the hotel committing petty crimes. Whoever first discovers the identity of the masked man will be given free room and board at the hotel. However, as Conan investigates and finds out nearly everyone present is a respected computer programmer, he discovers that there’s another, secret prize in the competition: a virus named after the Night Baron character…

During their stay, Conan is thrown off of his balcony by the Night Baron! Now concerned about the true nature of this competition, Conan is on the hunt for the Night Baron… The Baron’s identity is quickly revealed when the character is too cast from a balcony, and lands on the spear of a statue, getting impaled and dying immediately. When the mask is revealed, the identity is revealed to be programmer Tokio Ebara… however, Conan is not convinced this is the real Baron. The Moores begin their search for the culprit of this murder and the true identity of the Night Baron…

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

And during their hunt, they find the victim’s room, locked and sealed from the inside, barring access…

I want to get this out of the way now, there is some beautiful cluing towards a brilliant murder trick in this story. In my opinion, in fact, this is the most brilliant piece of misdirection in the series so far. The locked-room mystery itself is minor and resolved immediately, but the locked-room itself is merely a form of misdirection that contributes to the greater solution — the true solution. It’s a brilliant mystery puzzle, so I wish I liked this story more…

The story, bizarrely, feels like two disparate premises stitched together. The murder at a gathering of computer programmers and the ne’er-do-wellery of a fictional Great Thief come to life are, individually, two fantastic premises, but stitching them together by naming a virus after the character makes the whole thing feel confused and muddled, and leads to neither idea really feeling like it gets sufficiently payoff come the end.

What makes this even more bizarre is that there are multiple instances of characters doing wildly suspicious things, and there’s… no explanation for it before or during the denouement. The suspicious activity is hand-waved over the course of what basically constitutes an epilogue, with multiple characters basically giving an apology that amounts to “hehe, whoops, we were so silly!” Very half-baked, artificial attempts to cast suspicion onto another character.

This also returns to the feature-length story trope of having a character make a weak dodge to attempt to deflect suspicion from the culprit, but inadvertently do the opposite and point big, blazing, neon arrows in the killer’s direction. It works here, though. Not from a misdirection standpoint, but just from a storytelling and character standpoint the attempt here actually adds a little to the story and gives Rachel a very compelling WWJD (What would Jimmy do) moment.

Anyway, the central trick here is brilliant and it elevates this story well beyond where it would’ve been with a lesser murder plot, being so loosely-plotted, frustratingly lazy and half-baked in places, and muddled. I’m almost certain this was once-upon-a-time a standard-length story, and it was extended when they realized they wanted it to be relevant to the series’s overarching plot for XYZ reasons… Only it would’ve been much better if it stayed that way. Still worth reading for the trick, but don’t make this your first Detective Conan you seek out.

Screenshot from the anime series and provided by Detective Conan World wiki

The second and final story this volume is Casebook 21 – The Poisoned Bride Attempted Murder Case (Chapters 8-10), which has the Moores attending the wedding of a police commissioner’s daughter — who also, as it happens, turns out to be Conan’s persnickety former teacher. Before the ceremony can commence, however, the bride is non-fatally poisoned by a packet of sodium hydroxide left in her favorite drink, a can of lemon tea! A video camera that recorded the gang’s entire interaction in the dressing room became a central piece of evidence in the murder…

This one is very good! The alibi trick for the poisoning was very clever, if not entirely unique, turning on a principle that has fundamentally been used a few times in the series already. It’s a fairly distinct interpretation of the idea though, as it relies on a certain character’s assistance to operate under the restrictions of poison, and the visual clue that reveals everything is very neatly handled!

The motive is touching and fairly clued, and the ending is very sweet, even if it a bit on the side of rewarding people for doing bad things…

It’s hard to match peaks, but Volume 8 of Detective Conan makes a valiant effort with its two stories. Volume 8 is absolutely worth reading once you’re a signed-on fan of the series, especially for the brilliant trick buried in the otherwise messy Night Baron Murder Case

  1. Moonlight Sonata (CB#18 V7 C2-7)
  2. Art Collector (CB#15 V6 C2-5)
  3. Tenkaichi Festival (CB#17 V6-7 C9-1)
  4. Bandaged Man (CB#12 V5 C1-5)
  5. Night Baron (CB#20 V8 C2-7)
  6. Art Museum Owner (CB#9 V4 C1-3)
  7. Poisoned Bride (CB#21 V8 C8-10)
  8. Strange Shadow (CB#4 V2 C1-3)
  9. LEX Vocalist (CB#13 V6 C6-9)
  10. Hatamoto Murder (CB#7 V3 C1-6)
  11. Shinkansen Bombing (CB#10 V4, C4-6)
  12. Conan Kidnapping (CB#14 V5-6 C10-1)
  13. Haunted Mansion Case (CB#6 V2, C8-10)
  14. Idol Locked-Room (CB#3 V1, C6-9)
  15. Roller Coaster (CB#1 V1 C1)
  16. Soccer Brother (CB#19 V7-8 C8-1)
  17. Monthly Presents (CB#8 V3 C7-10)
  18. Twin Brothers (CB#16 V6 C6-8)
  19. President’s Daughter (CB#2 V1, C2-5)
  20. Billion Yen (CB#5 V2 C4-7)
  21. ORO (CB#11 V4 C7-9)