"How hard I tried to live a normal life. Yet those thoughts would always return. I thought of all the strange adventures... I had been through, of the worlds they had revealed, worlds of murder that lay below the surface of our supposedly calm and ordered society. Could I ever capture them... for the moment I failed... What I could not yet know, was that some of the most horrifying rooms, were still to be revealed."- Arthur Conan Doyle (Murder Rooms: The White Knight Stratagem, 2001)
The 49th volume of Case Closed, better known as Detective Conan outside of North America, opens as a chase tale hidden within a pursuit story, which began in the previous volume when Conan's bugging device revealed a member of the Black Organization – and they're getting ready to bump-off a person referred to as "DJ."
Who's immediately identified: Yasuteru Domon. Domon is a military officer and aspiring politician, with a tough-on-crime attitude and a personal feud with the Japanese mafia, but it's Domon's aspirations for the national politics that puts him the crosshairs of the Men in Black.
Conan has to thwart several assassination attempts, moving from location to location, solving mini-puzzles in order to get there, which gives the plot almost the structure of a videogame. But then "Gin" finds Conan's bugging device and the visor of the B.O. moves from Domon to Richard Moore. Two of the four chapters in this story are titled "Men in Black vs. The FBI," because they were heavily involved in the thwarting business and blew the dust from the old dues ex machina to end the story with pinpoint precision. Overall, a couple of good chapters with some interesting progress in the series' ongoing storyline.
In the second story, Conan has to retrace the steps of a girl from his school, who approached the Junior Detective League with a prospective case, but didn't show up for school the next day. Her parents are away to attend a funeral and they learn from a shopkeeper she bought a bottle of juice, carton of milk and a utility knife – which confirmed my suspicion of the direction the story would take. A simple, but nice, filler story.
The final story is a combination of an inverted mystery and an impossible crime story, in which a murderer tries to use Richard Moore as the perfect, cast-iron alibi. No. It didn't work.
Atsushi Misumi wants the great "Sleeping Moore" to find his missing girlfriend, but that turns out to be the easy part of the case. Ami is found. Quickly. However, what they find is a corpse in a snow-covered car, doors sealed shut from the inside with tape and a charcoal stove on the passenger seat. What surprised me is that Conan didn't figure out the trick by simply remembering one of his previous cases. Conan solved a similar murder, situated in a tape-sealed bathroom, in volume 20 and the explanation, here, is only a slight variation on that previous story – hence why I rejected it out of hand. The story also introduces Eisuke Hondo, a transfer student and new classmate of Rachel, who's a huge fan of Richard Moore and who may be smarter than the unlucky clutch he appears to be, but I can see how he can be annoying to reader. So, in terms of the developing, overarching storyline, this was an interesting volume, but, plot-wise, I have seen better from Gosho Aoyama.
My (crude) theory for the sealed car: Misumi was clobbering away with a baseball bat on the windshield and that made me very, very suspicious. I suspected the windshield may've been removed to provide an exit, once Ami, the tape and stove were put in place, and then simply replaced. The strange expression on Misumi's face, during the battering of the windshield, strengthened this suspicion, because I reasoned the cold had perfected his job – and he was surprise and slightly confused to see how many blows it took to destroy his own handy work. I admit that discounting emotions in favor of reason is often the weak link in my deductions. I mean, emotions... are they really necessary?