Magpie Murders

Magpie Murders is the ninth entry in the internationally-acclaimed Atticus Pünd series by Alan Conway, where Atticus investigates a mysterious series of deaths in the sleepy English village of Saxby-on-Avon. You may find this a bit strange. Perhaps because despite supposedly being "internationally-acclaimed," you've never heard of Atticus Pünd before... or perhaps because the gigantic image above this paragraph says it was actually written by Anthony Horowitz. And there is a very good reason for this!

Magpie Murders is a standalone murder mystery by Anthony Horowitz, and revolves around a manuscript titled Magpie Murders, which is the ninth entry in the fictional Atticus Pünd series by fictional author Alan Conway. The manuscript is not merely an abstract plot device; the first half of the novel comprises (almost) the entire text of Conway's story. In this review, in order to differentiate between Magpie Murders the Horowitz novel and Magpie Murders the Conway script, I will be referring to the Conway manuscript as the "inner story" and the rest of the novel as the "outer story."

It's great. Magpie Murders is at once a homage, master class, shining example, and deconstruction of classic detective fiction. The inner and outer stories are each a murder mystery of a different flavor, so you get two murder mysteries for the price of one. It's smart, clever, and satisfying. I wrote that Moonlight Game felt like a detective novel written by a mystery fan, but Magpie Murders feels like a detective novel written for mystery fans.

Fullmetal Alchemist (Netflix)

This review will have SPOILERS. If you've never seen or read Fullmetal Alchemist, then stop reading this and go change that (but not with this movie!!), otherwise let's begin.

Murder by Death

Murder by Death is a 1976 movie about five great detectives who are called to an isolated mansion, but rather than dealing with a grisly murder case, they encounter a wacky murder case.

Dead by Murder!

I was hoping that Dead by Murder! would be a sleek, simple, yet witty murder mystery game, but unfortunately it's little more than a simplistic "strategy"/guessing game.

Cover Her Face

"A house full of people all disliking each other is bound to be explosive."

Martingale is an estate of tradition. Traditions the Maxie family is desperately and barely managing to maintain. But when the Maxies take in a local single mother, Sally Jupp, as a maid in order to save money compared to a more respectable domestic servant, she single-handedly shatters the status quo, turning each member of the household into either an ardent supporter or harsh critic. As such it shouldn't be much of a surprise—at least to the reader—when Sally is found dead, strangled in her bed, the door to her room bolted from the inside.

Monster Hunter World

If you somehow haven't heard about the series, Monster Hunter is, shockingly, a franchise about hunting monsters, and Monster Hunter World is the newest entry in the series. Although Monster Hunter hasn't gained the same traction in the West as it has in Japan (although that may change with Monster Hunter World...?), it's a well-established franchise that follows the same format each game. You grab one of a variety of gigantic weapons, put on some crazy armor, fight a huge monster in an epic battle, and use the spoils of your victory to craft deadlier weapons and crazier armor. It's great, heart-pounding fun that provides nearly infinite hours of replayability.

Monster Hunter World was a major release from a well-established franchise, so if you wanted to know what it's like, you'd probably read one of the dozens of reviews online, or watch some of the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of Monster Hunter World-related videos on YouTube, or just play one of the earlier games, rather than relying on this post. So rather than doing one of my usual full reviews, I'm instead going to list my top and bottom 3 things about Monster Hunter World. Let's go!

Re: Mind

Eleven girls awaken in an elegant dining room, filled with an eclectic collection of seemingly unrelated items. The girls' legs are locked to the floor, preventing them from standing up, let alone leaving. And quality-wise, things basically go downhill from there.

Lux-Pain / ルクス・ペイン

Welcome to Lux-Pain, where we play as Saijou Atsuki, a stoic silver-haired prettyboy high school student with a tragic past and magic powers that cause his right eye to glow yellow that he uses to fight evil as part of a secret organization. That's right, we're full speed ahead on the chuuni train and brakes are broke.

Turnabout Idol / 逆転アイドル

Recently I did a review of a licensed game based on a book franchise, so it makes sense to now do a licensed book based off a video game franchise, right? Right? ...No? Well, whatever. Today I'm gonna to be discussing the first Ace Attorney novelization by Takase Mie, Turnabout... uh, Idol.



oh no.

Two Detectives and One Watson / 一つ屋根の下の探偵たち

A certain passage struck me when I was reading Moonlight Game. It was a passage near the beginning of the book, when the characters were discussing Agatha Christie's novels. It suddenly occurred to me at the time that I, an American, was reading what was essentially a Socratic dialogue penned by a Japanese man in Japanese almost half a century ago about the writings of a British woman from a century ago. And I was following it.

At this point in humanity's history we have created an unfathomable amount of literature, and we are in an age of unprecedented access to this literature. And, if Sturgeon's law is to be believed, only a small portion of that literature is good. So how do you figure out what's decent, so you don't end up spending your life reading the mountains and mountains of junk? One of the ways is to read the works that have withstood the test of time, receiving the stamp of approval from each successive generation and becoming the "classics."

I bring this up because Two Detectives and One Watson is now the most current detective novel I have read, having been written by Morikawa Tomoki in the hyper-modern year of... 2013. When reading a "classic," even if I end up thinking it wasn't very good, I still think the time spent reading it was worthwhile by sheer virtue of it being a classic. But when reading a modern book, I always have the concern that it's going to be a mediocre waste of time. So I am happy to report that today's book, Two Detectives and One Watson, is a light, fun detective novel with an interesting premise and a satisfying solution.

Detective Conan: Rondo of the Blue Jewel / 名探偵コナン・蒼き宝石の輪舞曲

The release of Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice in 2016 was the first time I played an episodic murder mystery adventure game on the current-generation Nintendo handheld involving a plot that progressed concurrently in both Japan and a small fictional country and revolved around a lost national treasure from said fictional country. And yet little to my knowledge, five years prior had seen the release of Detective Conan: Rondo of the Blue Jewel, an episodic murder mystery game involving... well, you can probably guess. Overall it's a decent game that perfectly captures the feel of Detective Conan. While there are a few areas that felt like they could have been polished up a bit (this is a licensed game after all), it delivers in the areas that are more important for the type of game it is.

I'm going to assume that you know the basic premise and characters of Detective Conan (also known as Case Closed in the West), so if you don't, now is probably a good time to skim the Wikipedia page.

Dragon Quest XI / ドラゴンクエストXI

Although it didn't pick up as much popularity in America, Dragon Quest is a veritable phenomenon in Japan. And with good cause: Dragon Quest XI is an insanely fun, good ol' fashioned RPG that's filled to the brim with content. This is a game not to be missed.

Moonlight Game / 月光ゲーム

Ah, a relaxing summer vacation camping on a dormant volcano. You were just going with some buddies, but then you run into a few other groups of students on the mountain and quickly make friends, causing the trip to become even livelier and more fun than you expected. What could possibly go wrong?

If you're a character in a murder mystery, the answer is everything.