Can the well-read owner of a rare book shop use her knowledge to solve mysteries? Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 – Biblia Rare Books Hall Case Files) seeks to answer that question. That owner, Shinokawa Shioriko (Gouriki Ayame) has already used those deductive skills to win an assistant – Goura Daisuke (AKIRA) – and a solve a couple of other mysteries besides.

This episode starts with Daisuke startled by the manager of his favorite cafe – Fujinami Akio (Suzuki Kosuke).

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Shinokawa saves him, telling him to prepare for a house call. Apparently, they go to the homes of customers who want to sell their books to appraise them.

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Just as they talk about what Shida (Takahashi Katsumi) is up to . . .

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. . . they hear a woman’s scream from outside and find Shida lying injured on the pavement.

After they get him back inside, though, he tells them it was just a hangover.

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But was it really? All he can remember from the previous night is that he popped into a bar. Getting drunk and passing out is the logical Occam’s Razor explanation, but certainly not the only one.

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It sure seems there’s more going on, as Shida doesn’t have the paper bag of books he had with him the previous night, and instead finds a receipt in his back pocket. Could he have sold all the books while he was drunk?

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Since the books were collector’s items and he apparently sold them for a pittance, he needs to find the person he sold them to (though I have no idea what he’s going to do at that point – a sale is a sale). Shinokawa’s brother Fumiya (Jesse) points out that Shida doesn’t have the faintest idea where he went or who he met the previous night.

But Shida does have some clues – he was lying on the ground with a gold medal, a star-shaped stamp on his forehead, and a flying squirrel. Sounds like it was a truly wild night for him.

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But Shinokawa and Daisuke don’t have time for all that – they’ve got that house call to make.

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It’s the sort of house people pay house calls to – a big one which indicates its occupants can afford serious money.

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The woman in charge is Tamaoka, and she explains that her father passed away recently and she’s been trying to find a buyer for his books. His study has an electronic coded lock to it, so it’d be quite a surprise if these books weren’t valuable.

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Sure enough, Shinokawa is delighted by what she finds – pretty much the full range of classic Japanese poetry and literature.

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But it turns out that Tamaoka has an ulterior motive for calling Shinokawa over – some of the books were stolen recently. Tamaoka heard of Shinokawa’s recent successes solving mysteries and hoped that the book store owner could help with this one.

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And I was so glad to hear that – it’s about time Shinokawa started thinking of herself as a bit of a detective, and that people started coming to her for this kind of help. For now, Shinokawa was surprised to hear that she had gained such a reputation.

Tamaoka hands Shinokawa a book by Miyazawa Kenji – one that he had to finance himself and that didn’t sell well. In other words, it’s extremely rare.

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Tamaoka reveals that her father loved this book, and actually had two copies – buying the second copy even though he already had the first one. When Shinokawa asks if that was because the second copy was in better condition, Tamaoka says no – the second copy was dirty and had a faded cover.

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But Tamaoka eventually became attached to that second copy – either in spite of or because of its condition – and that’s the copy that was stolen. Tamaoka is sure the culprit who stole the book is someone in her own family, which is why she didn’t want to call the police.

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Tamaoka says that her brother and sister are trying to get more than their share of the inheritance. They got their father’s company while she got the house and books.

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It was right after a visit from them that she noticed the book was gone.

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Interestingly, Shinokawa asked about what they were wearing, and why they might pass up on the other books in the study.

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With no other leads, Shinokawa and Daisuke head to the company Tamaoka’s brother and sister control – Tamaoka Sports.

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The brother, Ichiro, is there, and he quotes from the book from memory to show that he understands the emotional attachment to it, and therefore wouldn’t steal it (at least, not to sell it). He tries to lay the blame on his other sister – Sayuri. Not exactly the tightest family, but I guess inheritance squabbles will do that. He says Sayuri hated books.

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Later, at the cafe, Shinokawa says she believed Ichiro’s story – to Daisuke’s complete disbelief. The lines that he quoted from Miyazawa’s book were changed since the first edition, and he quoted the first edition version. I’m not sure that’s really sufficient evidence of his honesty, but the opposite situation – where he failed to correctly quote the book he was supposedly emotionally attached to – would have been damning.

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But Shinokawa has better evidence up her sleeves. Remember how she asked about what Ichiro and Sayuri were wearing? Well, based on that, she knows there was no way for Ichiro to hide the book on the way out of the house. She gets Daisuke to imagine the scene.

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Daisuke proposes a scenario where Ichiro rushes out to the car to hide the book, but that won’t work, either – the living room where the two women are is next to the front door and has a clear view of the car.

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So, does that mean Sayuri is the only suspect left?

Meanwhile, Shida is at Biblia bemoaning his inability to get any headway in his own case. His friend Kasai (Tanaka Kei) stops by to say that he found books Shida has been hunting for (not the books he lost – just other ones he’s been trying to acquire).

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But then, when Fumiya shows Kasai a picture of Shida in handover mode, Kasai recognizes the star-shaped mark on Shida’s forehead. Looks like they finally have a break in the Shida case.

Oddly enough, the drunk Shida went to a game store, asked for a stamp on his forehead, and left the game he had bought behind. Wow, that was some powerful stuff he was drinking.

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Actually, there was some method to his madness – he was actually buying the game for Kasai (and since Kasai recognized the mark from this store, there’s no doubt that he’s an avid gamer). But before the trail gets cold again, a woman at the store shouts “ah, Champion-san!” to Shida. What’s that all about?

Perfect time to cut back to the Tamaoka case, where pretty much nothing happens.

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Then back to the Shida case in a flash, where we find out Shida took part in a break dancing competition – and won! (That explains the gold medal, so we just need to figure out the flying squirrel.)

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Analysis of photos from the break dancing competition shows that he still had his bag of books after it. So, they decide to go to where the competition took place. What will they find? How did he get that squirrel? How did he lose the books? From this point on, you’ll have to watch the episode to find out what happens with him.

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Shinokawa and Daisuke are waiting for Sayuri to show up when her son, Subaru, arrives in her place and asks them to come with him.

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Hmm . . . new character in a mystery means new suspect, right? Subaru just has to serve them tea while they wait for Sayuri, and if this was reality, that would be totally innocuous. In fiction, though, there’s no reason to introduce him now unless he has a significant part to play.

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They tell Subaru that they’re after the person who stole the Miyazawa book. Subaru’s response is the logical one – why did the culprit only steal one book? For some reason, Daisuke acts like this is the first time the thought ever crossed his mind.

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Saiyuri arrives after that. She is irritated that there’s so much fuss over a book and asks how much it’s worth. Shinokawa says 1 million yen (around $11,000), and Saiyuri seems genuinely surprised, noting that it’s more evidence that her sister got more than she should have from the inheritance. She complains that there wasn’t a proper will – which is surely interesting and significant.

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Saiyuri also seems to alibi out, as it were.

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On the way out, they bump into Shida.

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And as the paths converge, I’ll have to leave the narrative altogether or risk revealing too much. Roughly half the episode is left, but it’s all resolution. There’s an additional mystery related to the books, and unraveling the rest extended the resolution beyond what was required by the main mystery.

Except for the slow wrap-up, I think this was a very good episode. Having the two plot lines – the Shida line and the Tamaoka line – improved the flow and added some much-needed humor.

Despite being a bit dense in the first half, Daisuke played more of a part in the resolution, showing that he’s not completely without deductive acumen. So, there’s a bit of development there.

The mystery itself was remarkably satisfying – by far the best of the series so far. There was a slight soft spot in the logic, but the pieces fit together quite well, and more importantly there were a lot of angles involved. I especially enjoyed the completely unexpected Les Misérables reference.

There was a surprising question from Shinokawa to Daisuke at the end and a man in the shadows – suggesting that things are going to get darker toward the end of this drama.

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