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(Yuu arrives at Tokyo airport.)
Watashi no Kioku (My Memories, Great Magazine, 2000). Kana is excitedly guessing at who, in Narita airport, could be Sou's younger sister, Yuu. Elsewhere, a girl is constantly getting help from other people for having gotten lost, forgotten her paperwork, and leaving notes behind at the telephone counter. Each good Samaritan speaks a different language, and the girl replies to each flawlessly. Eventually, she trips and falls to the floor and Kana helps her up. We learn that Yuu has a pitch-perfect ear for languages, but is otherwise very easily distracted. Initially, the two girls don't get along, but Kana is desperate to learn about Touma's past and she arranges for a sleepover. Eventually, Yuu starts talking about growing up in a house near a park near the sea. Touma would rescue animals hit by speeding drivers, but after nursing them back to health, he'd abandon them in the park. On a similar note, once, when everyone was out of the house, her dog, Ichien (One Cent) had disappeared. When Touma returned from school a few days later, he refused to help her look for him. From this, Yuu concludes that her brother is distant, introverted, and doesn't really like her much.
The next day, the three of them go shopping. Yuu gets lost, then ambushed by some women running from a store where they'd just shoplifted a jacket. Yuu is knocked down and bangs her head, while the bag the jacket is in tears and drops the thing into the mud. The women keep running. When Yuu wakes up in the hospital, she can't remember what happened. She speaks a riddle in German, then just acts confused. The shopkeeper accuses her of being part of the girl gang and demands payment for the ruined jacket. Touma leads the guy out of the room, and Yuu is devastated at seeing him pay the guy off, thinking that her brother doesn't believe in her. So, where was Yuu when she got lost? What does her riddle mean? Can Touma find an alibi for her? Does her brother hate her that much? And, what happened the night Ichien disappeared?
No actual science this time, but there is a brief discussion of the different phonemes used in various languages, and we get to see the sights around Shibuya. We never get to see Sou's parents' faces clearly, but we are told that they bonded better with their daughter than they did with their son.
(Prepping for a jump.)
Ao no Misshitsu (The Blue Locked Room, Great Magazine, 2000). One of the friends of Kana's family is a skydiving instructor, and he gives Kana some free lesson tickets. No one else in the school wants to go with her, so she tricks Touma into eating some of her homemade snacks so that he has to do whatever she says in return. That weekend, while the two of them are going through pre-jump training, 4 members of the Stardust jumping team go out to practice some 4-way maneuvers. One member just keeps falling and fails to open his chute. Kana's instructor, who is part of the team, tries to catch up with the guy, then the emergency chutes of both open up. When the ground crew arrives at the landing site, they see the instructor standing over the inert body. When he removes the guy's chute, everyone sees a knife sticking out of his back. Clearly, the only way the murder could have occurred is if the instructor drugged the victim so he'd pass out during the jump and then stabbed him on the ground.
During investigations, Kana learns that there was a similar death a year earlier, when the instructor's girlfriend's chutes malfunctioned and she fell to her death. The victim this time had been trying to cheat with her, so it's assumed that the instructor got jealous and killed his jumping partner. The questions are then: Is there a connection between the previous accident and this crime? Why was the stabbing victim killed in such a way as to incriminate the instructor? How could the stabbing have occurred in the middle of the air during the jump without the rest of the team seeing it? Is there some way to get direct evidence of the killer messing with someone's chute, short of risking one's own life jumping with faulty equipment?
If you want to learn about skydiving, and how altimeters work, this is a good chapter to read. No real hard science, though. One note - at the end of the story, Kana gives Sou a handmade bento lunch, then tells him that in return he has to climb Everest next summer with her and her grandfather. Touma spits the food out.
Comments: We do get to see Sou's sister in this book, but otherwise we don't learn a lot about their parents. The skydiving story is a neat locked-room mystery, but the killer's motive is a bit weak. Otherwise, recommended.
(Kana's instructor is the second from the left.)