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Reviewed by Nicholus Schroeder for Readers' Favorite
Death of the Living Dead is a murder mystery book by Masaya Yamaguchi and was translated by Ho-Ling Wong. The Smile Cemetery has earned its reputation as the most desirable cemetery for one to say farewell to their loved ones. Smiley Barleycorn reigns as the Smile Cemetery’s general manager and founder, but his time is running out so he names his eldest son John as his successor. In order to prevent discord in the family when he passes, Smiley decides to write a will and has his entire family present to witness his final moments. His desire for an audience, however, led to one of his children’s untimely demise. The victim, however, didn’t remain dead and rose as one of the living dead that have been sighted all over the country. The victim vows to bring the killer to justice. Pandemonium soon ensues, however, as more murders take place at Barleycorn Manor and the recently deceased amateur detective has no leads nor suspects. Will the amateur detective solve the mystery before his/her corpse disintegrates? And who is the killer?
To say that Death of the Living Dead was an amazing read would be an understatement as this book was phenomenal! The plot, in particular, was the best I’ve come across in the murder mystery genre. It was incredibly well thought out and had plenty of genuine surprises for me. The revelation of the killer’s identity and the solving of the mystery were akin to what I’d expect from an Agatha Christie book. The multitude of theories presented by different characters about how the events leading to the murders unfolded was great too, and I loved playing out those scenes as I read. Another amazing thing about this book was just how intricate the entire mystery was. It was truly a masterpiece and one that blew my mind.
Character development is also worth mentioning as I liked how Grin grew on me as the story progressed. His character was authentic and well-written, and the other characters were also very meaningful and organic. That’s a good thing, as murder mystery books need solid characters to draw the reader in. The central theme of death was also interesting to me as Dr. Hearse’s talks with Grin about death and life were always intriguing. Masaya Yamaguchi has written such a memorable book. I’d recommend this book to readers that love murder mysteries and in particular any works containing the name “Agatha Christie” as this book is sure to meet such readers’ expectations.