I bought this for mom while she was recovering from her knee replacement since she likes The Morning Show. I wasn't expecting too much. Good thing since I got even less than I bargained for. This was one of those times that you feel they paid off big name mystery writers to gush over this because it had nothing in it that they said it did. It wasn't thrilling or funny (and funny is mentioned in every review). The point of view character, Billy Blessing, is sarcastic but not even really sarcastically funny.
Granted, a good chunk of my displeasure with this stems from the fact it's the type of amateur detective trope I dislike the most. I can enjoy amateur detectives when they're related to a real cop or are at least good friends with the local detectives. However when the local detectives are absolute idiots, refusing to listen and are out to get the amateur detective at every turn, I just roll my eyes and put the book aside. This was one of those books.
Blessing is a chef, has his own restaurant, his own cooking show and works for Wake Up America (and is a thinly disguised Al Roker but that's okay. I didn't mind that). Rudy, his producer, wants him to do a knock off of foodnetwork's next star show but with no talents. Then after an innocent but misunderstood conversation with Gin, another coworker, leads to her negotiating a 15 million dollar contract, Rudy and Billy are at loggerheads until Rudy ends up dead poisoned by Billy's coq au vin.
This potentially could be an exciting mystery and if you don't mind stupid cops you might even like this. The detectives however refuse to even look at other suspects and everything hinges on people either misunderstanding each other or keeping stupid secrets (another drama creating trope I hate). I mean if someone cold cocked you and demanded something from the dead guy's place wouldn't you report it? Wouldn't you mention that the victim was sleeping with a 17 year old while cheating on his fiancé just to give the cops other suspects? Yeah, apparently not. This isn't badly written from a technical standpoint but I found it unbelievable, unfunny and I won't be looking for the next book in the series.
Hero Tales #2 by Hiromu Arakawa & Huang Jin Zhou
I'm enjoying this one. Taitou, Laila, Ryuukou & Housei end up at Housei's master's home, a woman he refers to as an old devil woman. Granted she is older than he is, at tops 30, Kouei is a gorgeous woman who seems to be a tad enthusiastic in her affections (think Armstrong with Riza's looks). Kouei is known as the font of wisdom. She has an amazing library and she knows tricks to manipulate ki. She tries to teach Taitou to master his star before it destroys his whole body. We also learn secrets about Taitou and Ryuukou's childhood and what Kouei predicts for Laila's future.
In the background, we also see the emperor who is just a boy Taitou's age or maybe even younger being manipulated by power hungry adults and woefully ignorant of the ruin they're causing and the horrible treatment of the poor and refugees. Naturally, at some point the completely impulsive Taitou and the emperor are bound to cross paths. I do like this manga. It's not quite up to Fullmetal Alchemist's standards but Zhou's story telling is good and Arakawa's art is good as always. Taitou is a tad too impulsive and violent for my tastes but that is part of what he needs to overcome in order to be the hero so it works. He's like Edward Elric with less impulse control and less educated (or perhaps just not quite as bright). Sadly, in looking for the publishing dates for the next few books, Amazon had a huge spoiler right in the product blurb. Thanks for nothing.
Shrine of the Morning Mist #1 by Hiroki Ugawa
This was in the half price bookstore's tiny manga offering and I had been considering buying it for some time since well it was a hit anime and apparently a big deal in fandom. I'm not entirely sure why. It wasn't a bad story but it had problems.
Sisters Kurako, Yuzu & Tama are Miko priestess, used to dealing with the spiritual world and the demons within. Their cousin Tadahiro is sent to live with them and he not only has some tie to Yuzu (and the other sisters seem to want them together as a couple) the spirit world is out to get him. It sounds interesting enough and the storyline when it stays on track is good.
However, we get some true weirdness with the Father, who reminds me of the dad in Bleach, always overreacting and doing just completely oddball stuff that I couldn't see anyone ever actually doing. Tadahiro is an unusual boy and seems to come from a dysfunctional family and has no idea how to act with this father figure.
But I think the main falling down is two fold. One, the art is erratic. Sometimes it's good, other times the faces are just all off. Second, you can't tell the sisters apart. That's both an art issue and a writing issue. Right now, they have no personalities and I can't tell one from the other except that Yuzu is a cold fish. I might be willing to buy more used and see if this was just a byproduct of trying to set the story up.