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Q.E.D., vol. 16, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Setting up for Hanami.)
Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Great Magazine, 2003). This is a very simple office mystery that starts out with Kana trying to organize this year's hanami (cherry blossom viewing party). She wants to assign Touma to stake out a place for the class in one of the parks, but he's already agreed to visit the headhunter of a company owned by the father of the richest girl in the school. This leaves Kana stuck with having to sit in the park herself the evening before the party. As she's killing time, some employees of a different company set up their ground cloth next to hers, and she ends up listening to the problems of 3 of the employees. The first one, an office woman, had lost a page of an important report she was supposed to be copying, and the report is due the next day. The second is the woman's fiance, who wants her to quit the company so they can get married. He was next to the copier when the original document page disappeared. The third is an older worker that might be forced to retire early, and he may hold a grudge against the company. This third guy is also something of a trickster, claiming to be able to read documents in locked rooms with the lights turned off. He's worried because he's lost his wedding ring. Kana, meanwhile, is afraid that she may lose Touma if he accepts the headhunter's offer, and she's trying to decide why that bothers her.
(Touma talks to the headhunter.)
Questions: What happened to the missing original page and why can't anyone in the office find it? How can the older guy read something in a dark room without using a flashlight or cigarette lighter? (The light switch is out in the hall)? Is the missing wedding ring related to the "reading in the dark" trick? Will Touma accept the job offer?
Obviously, Touma turns the offer down, but he is asked by the headhunter why he had returned to Japan to attend high school after graduating from MIT. The boy's answer is "hanami". He explains that life is like watching cherry blossoms. The thrill isn't looking at only one or two blossoms - it's the entire effect of seeing all of the trees in full blossom at once. And he's attending a Japanese high school for the same reason - to get a bigger, wider set of experiences to fill out his life. No science or history this time, outside of a mention of static electricity.
(Flashback telling us about Ryouko and her violent husband.)
Shisha no Namida (Dead Tears, Great Magazine, 2003). Kana, her father and Touma are out in the mountains fishing at a small stream. Touma is the only one catching anything, and he attributes this to the fact that the killing intent from the other two is scaring the fish off. They've been invited to stay at the cabin of Det. Mizuhara's friend, Yoshirou Ooshiro and his wife Misami. The two are artists that specialize in designing mannequins. Yoshirou had asked Mizuhara to visit because of a letter he'd received from a neighboring wife, Ryouko Awata. She writes that her husband, Tetsuo, has been abusing her and she's afraid that if she tries to run away again, he'll kill her. The next day, a local patrol cop drives the three heroes around the village, telling them about Tetsuo. The guy runs a local trout farm. He's generally quiet, but gets very violent when drunk. The cop gets an emergency call, and he drops the three off at the fish farm on his way to the location of the call. Mizuhara meets Tetsuo and asks to see Ryouko, but Tetsuo says that she left the house that morning with their car and he hasn't seen her since. The car is found in a ditch alongside the road, and various motives surface implicating Mizuhara's friends. Yoshirou has been fooling around with Ryouko, and Misami knows about it. Eventually, Ryouko's body shows up buried in the pile of mannequin parts in the Ooshiro family warehouse, and it looks like the corpse has been crying.
Questions: Who killed Ryouko, how, and where was the body kept before it was found? How many of the accusations being spread around are true and which ones are manufactured? When it was thought that Ryouko had run away, why was there half-prepared food left in the kitchen and her make-up pouch still on her dressing table? Why was Touma spotted removing the victim's wedding ring and what does he do with it?
The only real science is a discussion of optics as it applies to light being reflected off the walls of large fish tanks.
Comments: I really do prefer the Q.E.D. stories that deal with math or quantum physics, or that talk about famous people in those fields. So, these two stories are just mildly interesting as straight mysteries. On the other hand, we do see a little more of Touma's personality coming out here, first in his viewpoint regarding why he's going to a Japanese high school now. In the second story, he claims he heard the dead victim asking him to return her wedding ring to her husband. Recommended.