Friday, October 18, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 39 review

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Q.E.D., vol. 39, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(All of the current residents of Aabanhiruzu meet Kana, plus the suspicious guy in room 6.)

Aabanhiruzu 6-go shitsu Jiken (The Incident in Aabanhiruzu Apts., Room 6, Magazine Iino, 2011).  Akebi Kuwashima comes home to Aabanhiruzu Apartments after a hard day of unsuccessful fortune telling. She notices the light is on in room #6, and checks it out since it's been empty ever since she moved into the place. Inside, she sees the body of the caretaker hanging from a rope by the neck. Two months later, the building is a mess since no one's taking care of the cleaning or paying the bills. The renters are at each other's throats, and are getting close to throwing punches. In room 1 it's Saki Momonari, a man-chasing office lady; Hachirou Kakinouchi, in room 2, is a restaurant owner who had run away from his wife and kids; room 3, Tsutomu Tochigi, an unsuccessful and arrogant medical student; Akebi is in 4; a relative of the caretaker, taxi driver Kenzou Kurimoto, is in #5; and a weird guy wearing dreadlocks and sunglasses has moved into #6. At the height of the conflict, Kana arrives to act as a part-time caretaker. Eventually, we're told that one of Kana's classmates is the caretaker's granddaughter, and she refuses to believe the police's conclusion that the woman had committed suicide. Touma and Kana infiltrate the building to find the truth.

(Ghost of caretaker, meet Fortuneteller. Fortuneteller, meet ghost.)

The key points are that the former caretaker was very stingy, planned to up everyone's rents, had announced that she was going to give a present to Hachirou, was found with water or grease on her hands, and had an emergency buzzer because of a bad heart. All of the renters blame the others, but none of them have strong motives. Neither Hachirou or Saki wants anyone to know that they're in such a rundown place. Kenzou would inherit part of his relative's estate. Tochigi has no money and can't afford a rent increase. Akebi is kept awake at night by the funeral incense the caretaker would burn in the family altar. No one knows about the weirdo in room 6, except for Kana and the readers. Main questions: What happened to the emergency buzzer the caretaker always carried around her neck? (It notifies the hospital if she has another heart attack.) Why was she found in room 6? Was this a case of murder, suicide, or something else?

No science. Just a regular story. Note that all of the character names include the names of fruits and nuts from trees (peach, chestnut, persimmon, etc.)

(Touma tells us about Voyager 1.)

Gurando Tsua- (Grand Tour, Magazine Iino, 2011). Loki, Eva Sukta, Touma and Kana have been invited to Hawai'i by former NASA engineer and professor Io Anderson. He headed one of the teams that put Voyagers 1 and 2 into space in 1977. In 1975, his wife, Luna, had committed suicide by combining whiskey with sleeping powder. Present day, Io is being visited by the other members of his team - Collin Lego, Ray Sky and Miranda Hart. Io promises to show the kids a "grand tour", but he disappears that night. The 35th anniversary of Luna's death is in two days, and the adults are afraid that their former boss may be contemplating suicide now. While questioning the adults, Touma and team learn that Io had been a hardheaded taskmaster, spending all of his time in the lab in trying to get the satellites to work, while leaving his newlywed wife alone at home. The one time he returned home to have dinner, he complained that it tasted terrible. By several accounts, it seems that he beat his wife at least once, and was more concerned about his precious Roadster than he was about Luna. The problem was that at the time, the team had a very short window for prepping Voyager 1 for its launch - it had to make a slingshot around the sun and the inner planets - AKA: The Grand Tour - and if they missed their deadline, the next alignment of planets wouldn't be for another 170+ years. However, one of the boards kept overheating, and the tech responsible for building it, Ray, couldn't find the problem (it was a hairline short). The team does get Voyager into space on time, in 1977, but it was only after that that they learned that Luna was dead and no one knew the cause of death. So now, Collin, Ray and Miranda figure that Io, who is now retired, wants to join Luna in death. The next day, Io is seen driving his Roadster along a coast road. He goes through a fence into the ocean, but the body is not found.

(Miranda talks about Io finding the solder whisker that was causing the board to overheat.)

Questions: What exactly is this new "Grand Tour" Io mentioned to the kids? What happened, exactly, back in 1975 between Io and Luna? And how does that relate to what is taking place now?

The science revolves around slingshot orbits and the development of Voyager, and we get a brief glimpse into what it might have been like to work in NASA in the '70s.

Comments: The first story is actually kind of silly, and the trick for getting the body into room #6 wouldn't work in most buildings in Japan, or any building in the U.S. The explanation for what happened to the emergency buzzy is also silly, and the culprit's motive is kind of unbelievable. Then again, with the mental illnesses that have been surfacing in modern society in both countries, the culprit's motive may be the most realistic part of the story. The second chapter, however, has great art, especially for the explanations of Voyager's mission and the way gravity would be used for the Grand Tour for the slingshots. Unfortunately, the story is a bit weak, and I never really believed that Io was going to commit suicide. In fact, that's a problem with murder mysteries - after the author sets the pattern of murder-disguised-as-suicide, then reveals the trick, you never really believe him when he says that the current mystery involves the main character committing suicide. Motive becomes everything, and Motohiro isn't that good at making believable motives.

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