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Q.E.D., vol. 35, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Touma does the big reveal for Asama (top left), Kana and the 2 suspects.)
Futari no Yougisha (The 2 Suspects, Magazine Iino, 2009). Ryouzou Yoshimitsu runs a transportation company. One morning, he goes into the offices early to prepare for a package delivery, and sees someone breaking into the safe. He recognizes the culprit, but is attacked and knocked unconscious. A few hours later, Ryouzou is discovered by one of the two drivers, Saburou Mikawa, who calls an ambulance and the police. The other driver, Yasumasa Antei, comes in while the police are investigating, and since he has to make a delivery to Nagoya, one officer accompanies him in the truck during questioning. The office has been burglarized before, and Ryouzou is known for giving jobs to people with spotty police records. So, when he comes to in the hospital, he says that he didn't see his attacker's face. Kana stops by the scene after going to the hospital to get her father's newest medical insurance card, and Det. Sasaduka takes the opportunity to ask Touma for suggestions. Touma's not interested in helping out, but Kana is afraid that a mistake here could cause her father problems later, so she forces Sou to say something. He comments that it's strange that Ryouzou hadn't called the police before confronting the culprit, so maybe it was one of the two drivers. Sasaduka is training a new guy - Kyoori Asama, who asks why his senior is asking a school kid for help. Later, Asama gets a little too gungho about looking good in front of Det. Mizuhara, and forces himself on Kana and Touma to get them to solve the case for him.
(Yasumasa's girlfriend recants her alibi to Asama after getting into an argument with "Yasu".)
Naturally, Asama takes Touma's hint the wrong way and figures that Yasumasa, a gambler that had cheated on his wife and was with his mistress at the time of the attack, is the villain. He confronts the mistress, saying that Yasumasa is cheating on her. A few hours later, she shows up with a black eye, and recants her alibi. Meanwhile, Saburou also has motive - his wife is in the hospital and it's getting really expensive. He, too, has an alibi. So, questions: Who opened the safe and attacked Ryouzou? Why? Is Ryouzou lying about not seeing the attacker's face? Why didn't he call the police first? Does Asama screw up so badly as to get himself fired?
(Touma accuses Kana of shooting him in the back when she signs them up for the Christmas play.)
Kurisumasu Purezento (Christmas Present, Magazine Iino, 2009). It's getting close to Christmas and Kana needs to find gifts for people. She's taking up knitting, to make a muffler, presumably for Touma (who already has one and doesn't need another). At the same time, the various school groups are preparing for their end of year activities. The theater group, run by senior Kentarou Shiroi, is facing difficulties, mainly because Shiroi keeps screwing up. He's a convincing actor, but he keeps going over the top, such as making gory make-up appliances that cause people to pass out, or flooding the theater with dry ice mist. This time, he's trying to encourage a pretty new actress, first-year Risa Saeki, and he pulls a loose thread on her blouse - the costume is a break-away and she's suddenly naked in front of the class, so she quits. With only 2 other members, the theater club is looking at getting disbanded, which would make several people happy. First is the club's teacher adviser, who doesn't want the headaches anymore. Next is the haiku club, which has to share rooms with Shiroi, and wants the space to themselves. However, Enari Queen, of the Mystery Club, wants to have a play written where she can say "you're the culprit", so she has her group sign up to merge with the theater club to bring the member count back up. Naturally, Kana and Touma are dragged in with her because their names are still on the MC roster.
(Shiroi accidentally sends the five-sided house up in flames.)
Touma gets forced to write the script. Shiroi, being the club leader, demands to be the main detective. This would make Enari quit, but Touma promises to give her the better lines as the villain, so she's happy. Homes is the murder victim and everyone else are supporting cast. To make the murder trick work, they have to build a 5-sided storage hut as a stage prop. During rehearsals, someone starts dropping stuff from the rafters onto Kana, and blacking out Enari's copy of the script. It seems that someone wants the play to fail, and when Shiroi decides to use fireworks in the middle of the big reveal, thus setting the hut on fire, the rest of the cast blame him for all of it. The adviser disbands the theater club and Shiroi is left on his own. But, he won't give up so he tries rebuilding the set by himself. This is futile, so Touma steps in to save the day. The play gets performed in front of the school and is very successful. The "murder trick" is shown to be very simple and Enari gets her big moment on stage. And, the one sabotaging the set is unmasked and allowed to participate at the last minute. At the end, we learn that the muffler was for Kana's father. (Flashback: one of Kana's friends had stated, back at the beginning of the story, that the best present you can give someone that likes math is a good puzzle. This is when Kana decided what she would do for Touma's Christmas "present" when she first encounters Shiroi...)
No science. One interesting side note is that in the play, Touma wants to keep things simple so that the script would be easy to memorize. As such, all of the characters are named and patterned after the people playing them. So, Kana's character is named "Kana", Shiroi's is "Shiroi", etc. Since the Mystery Club rebels at this, Touma asks what they want to be called. Enari says "Angelina Jolie", Nagaie says "Sherlock Holmes" and Yaku wants "Taichou (Commander) Fujioka" (possibly an astronaut with JAXA).
Comments: Nothing really special this time. Risa is cute, although she doesn't reappear later in the series. The artwork is good, and we finally get someone who gets injured and the injury lasts for more than one page (usually, even bullet wounds heal in this series within a day or two). Asama's an idiot, though, and I don't recall him reappearing later, either.