Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s a serial killer loose in Los Angeles and the local authorities need help fast. For some reason, the killer has been leaving a string of maddeningly arcane clues at each crime scene. Each of these clues, it seems, is an indecipherable roadmap to the next murder.
Onto the scene comes L, the mysterious super-sleuth. Despite his peculiar working habits, he’s never shown his face in public—but this time, he needs help.
Enlisting the services of an FBI agent named Naomi Misora, L starts snooping around the City of Angels. It soon becomes apparent that the killing spree is a psychotic riddle designed to specifically engage L in a battle of wits. Stuck in the middle between killer and investigator, it’s up to Misora to navigate both the dead bodies and the egos to solve the Los Angeles Murder Cases.
First Sentence: When Beyond Birthday committed his third murder, he attempted an experiment.
Before I even start, let me warn you that you aren’t going to enjoy this book much if you are unfamiliar with the manga/anime series Death Note, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Another Note is a spin-off of Death Note, written as a prequel, by Nisioisin.
I am a huge— obsessive even— fan of Death Note! I have every issue of the manga, every episode of the anime, posters, t-shirts, etc. My obsession was to the severity at one time that I wrote fanfictions about it. My longest one was the length of a full novel. All that time put into someone else’s world when I could have made that novel my own original. Anyway…
L Lawliet is the world’s greatest — or as the book says, century’s greatest— detective. He is my favorite character in fiction. Hands down. If you are familiar with Death Note, you would know that he’s an extremely eccentric character. Quite quirky!
The story is narrated by Mello, another popular character of Death Note. There has been a string of murders and L enlists the help of another character from Death Note, Naomi Misora to be his eyes on each scene. While revisiting the crime scenes, a sketchy private detective who calls himself Ryuzaki shows up and together, they decipher the killer’s clues in a race to catch the killer before he murders again.
Before I give a spoiler alert, let me say that the most ridiculous thing about this story were the horrid names! It was a goal for the creators of Death Note to try and use odd names for the characters so that no one in the real world might share that name. The author here has plainly tried to use the same rule in this spin-off; but unlike the characters from the original series, the names just don’t sound natural. The characters that Nisioisin creates are named Beyond Birthday, Believe Bridesmaid, Quarter Queen, Backyard Bottomslash, Blackberry Brown, and Blues-harp Babysplit. Yeah. It’s pretty bad.
The puzzles presented in the investigation were well thought out and complex enough to exercise my brain. The clues left behind by the killer are so abstract and out there, a few of them seem just outright silly. Despite the silliness, however, they were still necessary. L is, after all, the world’s greatest detective. The only way to even begin to challenge him is through abstract clues. I enjoyed this story for the originality and complexity of the case itself, and it is always a pleasure to read anything that is even remotely related to L Lawliet. I wish so bad that he had his own series about his days before the events in Death Note. Another Note will sadly be all we ever see.
So… spoiler alert.
The issues I had with the book aside from the ridiculous names? L is hardly in the book at all. We are just made to believe he is. In Death Note, L uses the alias of Ryuzaki, which leads us to believe that the private detective that helps Misora throughout the book is actually L. But he’s not, he is Beyond Birthday, the killer. Beyond Birthday is a cheap copy of L, originally to be his successor.
That twist within itself is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. There’s actually a moment towards the end in Mello’s narration where he makes fun of the reader: “Since the idea that Ruzaki was L was comically absurd and completely unthinkable…”
Ryuzaki spoon feeds all the clues to Misora, but we never hear much about what L is doing. Misora makes a few phone calls to him throughout the story, and he appears in person in one super short scene at the end, but that’s it! That’s it! That’s all I get of L! I wanted more L!
The only other problem I had with this book was there were numerous occasions where I couldn’t tell which character was making a statement. The order of the dialog seemed to break in many places if that makes any sense.
Beyond Birthday was born with the Shinigami eyes, which means he can see a person’s name and the day they will die just by looking at them. He can see beyond a person’s birthday. The victims he chooses are all people who were supposed to die regardless of whether or not it was by his hand. In other words, if he sees that someone’s lifespan ends— say… today’s date— even if he himself doesn’t kill them, they will die of something else at that moment. Could be a heart attack, a fall down the stairs, suicide… anything. The universe just happened to choose him as the tool… or the reaper. By this logic, no one’s life is ever truly cut short. When the amount of lifespan you’ve been given runs out, times up… and the powers that be will find a tool to take you. I find this a very interesting concept.
Despite the issues I had, I really enjoyed this book. And despite his crazy name, I am now a fan of Beyond Birthday and, like many Death Note fans, consider him canon, despite the fact that he wasn’t created by Ohba and Obata.
“Pretending to be abnormal…well, just the idea of doing that is abnormal enough.”
…but just as the greatest detectives makes the greatest criminals, a specialist in investigation is also a specialist in murder.
“What should I do? Frankly, I think it’s dangerous to take my eyes off him.”
“Was he cool?”
“If you agree with something, you must have sufficient reason to agree with it. If you disagree with something, you must have sufficient reason to disagree with it.”
She was where she was because her entire life had been like walking through a town she didn’t know— if she lived her life over again, she was sure she’d end up somewhere completely different.
The most intelligent people disguise the fact that they are intelligent. Wise men do not wear nametags. The more people talk about their own skills, the more desperate they are—their work should speak for itself.
The century’s greatest detective, advertised as solving every case imaginable. How great his burden must be, how much pain must he go through every single moment: past, present, and future… A burden so great it would leave you hunched over. A bitter taste in your mouth that would leave you longing for sweets.
“Killing children or adults — equally horrible.”
“Naomi Misora, I cannot overlook evil. I cannot forgive it. It does not matter if I know the person who commits evil or not. I am only interested in justice.”
“Only… in justice…” Misora gasped. “Then… nothing else matters?”
“I wouldn’t say that, but it is not a priority.”
“You won’t forgive any evil, no matter what the evil is?”
“I wouldn’t say that, but it is not a priority.”
“But…” Like a thirteen-year-old victim. “There are people who justice cannot save.” Like a thirteen-year old criminal. “And there are people who evil can save.”
“There are. But even so,” L said, his tone not changing at all, as if gently admonishing Naomi Misora. “Justice has more power than anything else.”
“Power? By power… you mean strength?”
“No. I mean kindness.” He said it so easily.