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Q.E.D., vol. 33, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Touma tries to get out of helping people, but Kana is persistent.)
Paradokkusu no heya (The Paradox Room, Magazine Great, 2009). Rio Hisanaga is a friend of Kana's. One day, the two of them, plus Touma, walk out to an apartment building owned by Rio's grandmother. Seems that one of the occupants, Tatsuo Mineyama, age 28, hasn't paid his rent in 8 months. Rio has had to get some paperwork from city hall to bring to some civil service workers at the building to open the place up and find out what's wrong. As the door opens, a strong stench wafts out, and a mummified body is discovered in the futon closet. While Rio wants to keep this quiet from her aging grandmother, Tatsuo's ex-wife, Etsumi Mineyama, shows up and starts yelling that her former husband was assassinated and she will go to the newspapers if the police don't find his killer. Kana forces Touma to solve things to protect her friend. During the course of their investigations, Kana and Rio also encounter Tatsuo's best friend, Hiroshi Tatsumi, and mistress, Saki Kinouchi. The three acquaintances all paint different pictures of the victim. To Etsumi, Tatsuo was an avenging investigative reporter that had graduated from an American university, volunteered for a number of public service activities, and was the target of governmental wrath. Hiroshi claims that his friend was a slacker that went to a local private university, rebelled against his parent's attempts to get him to work at the family grocery store and wanted to become an actor. And, to his mistress, Tatsuo was a hardcore punk that never went to university, got an office job right out of high school, punched his boss in the face, and started up a rock band.
(Etsumi, Hiroshi and Saki. Going in one direction, they complement each other's stories. Going the opposite direction creates a paradox, where the person counterclockwise represents everything Tatsuo supposedly hated.)
In the middle of the victim's room is a huge pile of stuff, with no place for sleeping. Kana and Rio discover in the pile a diploma from an American university, a guitar and keyboard, and photo albums showing Tatsuo doing everything that his friends and lovers claim he did. This results in a paradox, since Tatsuo is a completely different person to each of the three witnesses. Etsumi thinks he was killed, Hiroshi thinks it was suicide, and Saki thinks he'd have overdosed on drugs he'd made from recipes he'd pulled from the internet. Questions: Is any of the three lying? Since the evidence in the victim's room backs up all three stories, just exactly who and what was Tatsuo Mineyama? Why was all of his stuff piled in the middle of his room and his body found in the bed mattress closet? How did he die?
No science, just a brief description of how mathematicians address problems that result in self-contradicting paradoxes. The analogy is that this kind of paradox requires the same balancing from the top as a house of cards. And, once you disturb that balance, it all comes down in a mess.
(Det. Sasaduka suggests that the victim stood up too fast, blacked out, hit his head on the wall, and drowned. Note the keys on the table.)
Suirishousetsuka satsujin jiken (The Detective Novelist Murder Case, Magazine Great, 2009). A killer dressed as a deliveryman leaves the body of an adult male in the bathtub, its mouth and nose below water level. He sets out fresh clothes on the washing machine, leaves the bath light on, exits the apartment and locks the door. This is a deadbolt lock that needs a key if you're locking it from the outside. And there are only two keys - the victim's, and his girlfriend's. 4 days later, while Touma is wasting his time trying to teach math to Kana, her father comes home and sees some guy standing in front of the house waiting for him. Inside, the guy introduces himself as Sadayuki Enoki, a detective mystery writer that had talked to Det. Mizuhara before. Turns out that the bathroom drowning victim was another writer, Kazuo Higashinaka. The two of them had been drinking at an izakaya a week ago with 2 more writers - Toshihiro Maitake and Mamoru Shimeji. Kazuo had told them about how to commit the perfect crime; since most accidents happen in the bathtub, hit someone on the side of the head and make it look like they stood up too fast, slipped, hit their head against the wall, and accidentally drowned. Enoki thinks it's too suspicious that that's exactly what happened to him 3 days later. Kazou's girlfriend had stopped by the apartment on Saturday, which is when she found the victim dead. The problem is, his key was sitting on the dining table at the time, so the police want to rule it an accident. The next day, Maitake goes to the police department and gives his report of what happened at the bar, too.
(From top, left and right: Kazuo, Shimeji, Maitake and Enoki. At the izakaya at the time Kazuo talked about "his" idea.)
Seems that everyone had motive in some form or other. Enoki was a one-hit wonder who burned through his royalty money and borrowed cash from the victim just to buy a new car. Maitake writes light novels and always got his ideas from Kazuo, then Kazuo would make fun of him for it in front of the other writers. And Shimeji writes realistic fiction, and would get into fights with Kazou, who was more successful with his hack work. Questions: Since only those 3 writers knew of the victim's idea, which of them is the killer? What's the true motive? How did the apartment key get back into the apartment to create a "locked room" mystery?
(The face of frustration and embarrassment.)
Comments: The first story sets up a guy who was just an ordinary, average joe who tried too hard to be what the people around him expected him to be, and eventually realized that he no longer recognized himself in the mirror. The second explores the tensions between rival creative types. Nothing really spectacular. Recommended if you like the rest of the series. The only unusual element is that the second story starts out with Kana narrating and explaining who the three principle figures are, and identifies her father by full-name: Koutarou Mizuhara. Her mother's first name is still unknown. She also says that she and Touma are still 2nd year high school students.