The last episode of Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 – Biblia Rare Books Case Files) left the drama’s main character – Shinokawa Shioriko (Gouriki Ayame) – on the ground in the rain, kicked down a staircase by an unknown assailant.

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Well, that’s definitely a way to whet my appetite for this episode. But can they capitalize on that effective cliffhanger?

Shinokawa wakes up in a hospital bed with wounds on her face, and her brother Fumiya (Jesse), Shida Hajime (), and eventually Daisuke (AKIRA) looking to her needs.

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At least we have a solid mystery already – who assaulted Shinokawa? And this is the first time the case has involved violence, so it’s a major step up in the tension level.

By the way, Fujinami (Suzuki Kosuke) is also in the hospital room – it turns out he was the person who called the ambulance. In my book, that makes him the prime suspect (but if I’m ever in need of medical assistance, I hope that mystery-based logic won’t make someone hesitate to call an ambulance for me).

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The others step out, leaving Daisuke and Shinokawa alone, and Shinokawa hands her assistant a key she keeps around her neck. With it, he opens a safe which contains a book.

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Shinokawa thinks that the book is the reason why she was attacked.

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Someone has been after this book for six months, sending Shinokawa a flurry of threatening e-mails. This particular copy is only one of 500, and is uncut – the pages require a paper knife to separate them, and haven’t been separated, so no one has ever read the copy.

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It also has a dedication from the author, so it’s pretty much one-of-a-kind.

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Okay, so it’s valuable (Shinokawa says it’s worth 3 million yen, or about $33,000), and Shinokawa values it even more because of the contents of the author’s dedication.

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Out for a wheelchair stroll outside, she explains that while her father and grandfather showed off this copy to visitors, she’s only showed it once – she lent it to a museum on condition that they kept where it came from anonymous. Somehow, though, word of who owned the copy leaked out.

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Well, that doesn’t really help to narrow down suspects, since anyone who visited the museum could be implicated.

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After the museum exhibit, the e-mails started to come:

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Shinokawa then says that if the attacker had killed her, he would have never gotten the book, so he wasn’t really trying to kill her. She must have serious confidence about her bookstore’s security systems, but now she has it in a safe in the hospital room with the key on her person. So . . . couldn’t someone walk in while she was sleeping, drug her, take the key, and get the book? Was Fujinami waiting around to do just that? I don’t understand why Shinokawa is so confident that her death would put the book out of her tormenter’s reach.

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Speaking of the (suspected) devil . . .

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. . . Fujinami wonders if there’s a case behind what happened to Shinokawa. She also wonders how her shop will do with her in the hospital for two weeks and Daisuke unable to open the store without her (heck, he can’t even read books, much less appraise them).

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Well, Daisuke tries to keep the shop open anyway, and it’s quickly apparent that he’s not really good at the logistics.

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But isn’t this just distracting him from investigating the case?

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Conveniently, Fujinami shows up at the shop with food, apparently concerned about Daisuke. Okay, they’re laying on the suspicious behavior a bit thick at this point, so it probably isn’t Fujinami, right? But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an ulterior motive in visiting. What is he up to?

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As Fujinami is at the door on the way out, there’s a sudden shout from him, and he says that there was a strange man hanging around.

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Whoever it was had started to put gasoline on the books they had on a cart outside the shop, and there was a lighter on the ground.

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Daisuke reports the attempted arson to Shinokawa.

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He suggests selling the book, but that’s obviously a no-go. She says she’s rather die than lose the book. But why not contact the police? After all, they could already claim harassment, attempted murder and attempted arson.

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Daisuke gets help from Shida’s friend to straighten out the order flow.

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Umm . . . when will someone start to try and solve this mystery? We knew what the mystery was in the first minute, but it’s twenty-one minutes in before Daisuke starts to put things together and to suspect someone.

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Unfortunately, it’s Fujinami, and there’s now no way Fujinami is the culprit.

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The pace continues to be painfully slow as Daisuke conveys his thoughts about Fujinami to Shinokawa.

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Daisuke tries to get Shinokawa to agree to bring the police onto the case . . .

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. . . but instead she tells him to put the book into a display case – put it on sale for 3.5 million yen. She wants to lure the culprit. The books she gives him is actually a replica, so there’s no risk if it’s stolen.

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Shinokawa claims she doesn’t want to bring in the police because they don’t have enough evidence, but the police are supposed to gather evidence, and at least having a report filed will make the person harassing Shinokawa think twice about continuing on this course. After all, if anything more happened to Shinokawa and the store, the police could get a warrant to trace the source of those e-mails, for instance.

Anyway, she wants Daisuke to make note of anyone attempting to buy the book, and to inform the police with their details. I have no idea how the police could treat that as evidence, though – buying a book is not a crime, nor firm grounds for suspicion.

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I also don’t believe the idea that the culprit will be quick to try and buy the book while everyone else will be wary of trying to buy the book from Biblia. There’s no explanation for why this should be the case.

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Well, will Shinokawa’s plan work, or will everything go up in flames?

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Will Fujinami turn out to be the culprit after all, or will it be someone else?

Well, I was rather hoping for more from this episode. The story offered so much potential, but I wasn’t satisfied with Shinokawa’s plan – it lacked any attempt at deduction. There was a bit of a twist related to the arson – both attempted and successful – but that was the only interesting aspect to the case.

The main problem was that both Daisuke and Shinokawa were mostly passive, and not actively trying to figure out who was at fault. The way the culprit is ultimately identified was a total stretch – not at all a credible work of deductive logic. It was more a matter of Daisuke jumping to conclusions. In the end, the culprit incriminated himself in the lamest way possible – a slip-up that no respectable mystery writer would stoop to using.

So, it was a flop in terms of the mystery. What about its strong points? I would have said the ending because at least there was some action, but I was confused by Shinokawa’s choice at the end to go to the roof. You’ll have to watch for yourself to decide whether that was a good move or not. The ending also leaves us with another cliffhanger, so that’s good. Hopefully they’ll give us something more interesting next time, but this episode definitely left me skeptical about the writers’ ability to capitalize on a good premise.