In volume nine of Kuroshitsuji, Ciel is under a cloud due to the way he handled the circus case. (Dear Queen Victoria, you sent a kid being groomed into an utter monster by a demon on a mission so close to home it’s cohabitating at the rebuilt Phantomhive estate, what did you think was going to happen?) The queen’s two butlers, Charles Grey and Charles Phipps turn up to with a request to provide entertainment for a German VIP. Ciel is reluctant at first, but the queen’s butlers metaphorically twist his arm until he agrees.
Ciel is instructed to invite a number of important business people and entertainers. Possibly, to ensure that he doesn’t get bored, he also invites a doctor who occasionally moonlights as a mystery writer. The mystery writer a frighteningly sweet young man named Arthur is our viewpoint character through most of this arc. (He provides an interesting outsider viewpoint in many ways, and reminds me of the anime version of Abberline. He is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle and this entire arc seems to be a tribute to Sherlock Holmes.)
The German VIP turns out to be a complete boor, so we don’t feel too sorry when he ends up becoming the focus of a locked room murder mystery. Ciel is initially the primary suspect due to the lack of an alibi.
Since no one can leave the mansion yet due to a storm, Ciel is shackled to the writer. (Who appears to be somewhat fascinated or charmed by Ciel, which is slightly disturbing after the events of the circus arc. What is even more disturbing is that Ciel appears to be deliberately manipulating the writer.)
Ciel is cleared as a suspect when another person dies. The death in question is Sebastian’s, which causes Ciel to have hysterics. There is some speculation on what happened, and then Ciel seems to regain his composure and appoints Tanaka as the butler. (A position he held when he worked for Ciel’s father. Tanaka seems remarkably lucid and very strict. We really begin to see why Sebastian has such obvious respect for him in this arc, though we had hints previously.)
We learn that prior to Sebastian’s death he had been performing a number of suspicious tasks and errands. Bardroy is given detailed instructions on what to prepare for meals over the next few days, Finny is given certain tasks to perform and Mae-Linn is directed to release an owl with a message tied around its leg. (Dear Yana Toboso, please don’t read Harry Potter and write your manga at the same time. Owls are only reliable mail carriers in children’s fantasy novels.) The tasks all seem to imply that Sebastian was aware that he would not be around. We also learn that yet another of the dinner guests have been murdered.
After my initial reaction to the circus arc, I was somewhat reluctant to continue the series. This particular arc managed to lure me back in, though I was somewhat uncomfortable with Ciel’s interactions with adults in this volume. There is a definite sense that he is play acting at being much more innocent and childish than he actually is, while at the same time being disturbingly worldly and creepy. I ended up being slightly disturbed by Arthur’s apparent fascination with Ciel, most likely because of the more grotesque plot points of the previous arc.