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Q.E.D., vol. 18, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(The class learns that Touma can't sing.)
Meitantei "Tachi" Hatsujou! (Arrival of the Famous Detective(s)!, Great Magazine, 2004). We actually get the introduction of Himeko Enari and her detective club in this chapter. The story starts with Kana's class taking Touma to a karaoke bar and discovering that he's not only completely tonedeaf, but that he now likes singing in front of a group. Elsewhere, in a dingy building behind the school, Enari goes to their fridge to bring out a cheesecake that she's just bought, and sees that someone has completely eaten all of it. The key to the room had been taken by someone that morning, so the entire school population are suspects. Her partners, Kouroku Nagaie (Nagaie = "Long House"), AKA: Holmes, and Orisato Morita, AKA: Mordar, are enlisted to help solve this crime. Problem is that "Holmes" doesn't quite understand what the word "logic" means, and "Mordar" is a UFO conspiracy fan who blames the theft on ghosts and aliens. Along with the missing cheesecake, they decide to tackle one of the standard school mysteries - the disembodied male voice coming from one of the stalls in the girls' toilets. That night, they explore the building and see the ghostly form of a girl in a hallway mirror. The next morning, their school councilor berates them for leaving their building key in front of the mirror.
(Although he likes ghost stories, Mordar (bottom panel, right) is a coward. Enari is bottom, left.)
Himeko figures that the culprits have to be the two people that they keep seeing everywhere - Kana and Touma. So, is it ghosts, aliens, classmates or a jealous adviser? Can the detective club figure the mystery out on their own, or do they get shown up by Touma?
No science outside of a repeat of the optical trick that was used in the fish farm murder in volume 16.
(Three birds discover a sparkly coin. They fight over it, then work together to bring it to their tree.)
3 wa no Tori (The 3 Birds, Great Magazine, 2004). Det. Mizuhara's partner is a younger guy named Sasaduka. As a kid, he'd grown up in a countryside village along with his friends Hiroshi Sakai and Tetsuo Inagaki. They'd built a tree house in the woods near a cliff, and played together in the area. 13 years later, local police find the skeletons of two lovers, Shinji Terada and Akiko Takeuchi at the bottom of the cliff; Shinji's skull shows evidence of being hit by a blunt object. Terada's family was rich and had disapproved of the marriage, so it was assumed that he and Akiko had eloped somewhere. Now, it looks like the Terada family might have punished them to protect the family name. Sasaduka is summoned out to the village because the local detective has heard that he may have seen something while playing alone in the tree fort as a child. Later, the other two friends visit Tokyo and Sasaduka catches up on old times with them. Hiroshi had stayed in the village as a farmer. Tetsuo had moved to Tokyo to go to an art school, and he'd just published an illustrated children's book called "The 3 Birds". It's a loose retelling of their childhood adventures, with three birds finding a coin and taking it to a tree. But one bird finds a delicious berry and flies to a forest to look for more; the second is attacked by a fox and refuses to return to the tree; and the third grows up lonely without having his friends around anymore. As Sasaduka talks to people, it's becoming more obvious that he had seen something and has completely blocked it out of his memory. This includes getting a cap gun from his mother, and playing with it in the woods alone (because his family complained about the noise). He returns to the fort, and finds the toy gun still hidden in a knothole in the tree. He tells Kana that if he has blocked something like this out of his memory, he doesn't deserve to be a cop any more.
Questions: What actually happened the day Shinji and Akiko disappeared? Why did Shinji get a chunk of his skull removed? Who saw what and why doesn't the picture book go into more detail of what scared the second bird? Does the wealth from Shinji's family have any relevence here?
No science this time. This is the first story in the series I've seen where the solution is found by someone other than Touma, but Sasaduka could have received some help from him off-camera.
Comments: We do get to see the introduction of "Enari Queen" and her team, and there's an interesting exploration of the tricks the human mind can play on itself. The first story also gives the name of Kana's school, which I don't think was ever mentioned elsewhere in the series up to this point: Sakisaka (Blossom Hill) Private High School. Recommended.