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Q.E.D., vol. 43, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(The reporter explains the rules for the crime scene recreation to the part-timers.)
Kenshou (Verification, Monthly Shonen Magajin Plus, date not given). A reporter is covering a crime scene at the home of Kouichirou Azumaya, president of Azumaya Pharmaceuticals. Suddenly, there's a disturbance at the house - the police are escorting out someone suspected of killing Azumaya with a crossbow. The suspect, Akira Nishijin, is approached by the corporate lawyer, Masayoshi Shiradai, who promises to get him freed from prison. Two months later, the police are convinced Nishijin is guilty, so the lawyer works with the reporter to create a TV program reconstructing the events of the day of the murder in order to show that Nishijin is innocent. 4 part-timers are hired to enact the parts of the 4 people that were in the house at the time. Kouma plays Kenzou Minai, a 48-year old real estate agent. Kana is Reiko, Azumaya's much younger, alcoholic wife. And two other guys portray Nishijin and the company's previous president, Kitanaka. All three men had motive: Azumaya would blame his own mistakes on Kitanaka, or the foreign sales VP, Nishijin. Azumaya had also tried getting into real estate, with terrible results, which he then blamed on the company's agent, Minai. And recently, Azumaya and his second wife had been getting into fights.
(The lawyer discovers that the drunk wife has gotten the 3 other men there for the meeting drunk as well.)
During the recreation, the part-timers wander around the house according to Shiradai's script. The only person with any opportunity to get close to Azumaya is still just Nishijin. Azumaya was shot through the chest with a crowbow bolt, and then strangled. Shiradai's intent is to simply show that someone else might have had opportunity, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Towards the end of the day, Shiradai gets a call from the police saying that Nishijin has signed a confession admitting to his guilt. Questions: Why a crossbow? Why wasn't the crossbow ever found? Who else could have gotten close to the victim without the grounds crew and house staff noticing? What would the motive have been? And why were four people who actively hated Azumaya ordered to visit with him at the same time?
No science. The story kind of follows a Law and Order format. Note that four of the names - Azumaya, Nishijin, Minai and Kitanaka - all have the words for directions (east, west, south and north) in them. The lawyer's name, Masayoshi, can also be read as "seigi", or "justice".
(Ginger visits his daughter in the hospital, and overhears Kana saying that seeing a young child in the hospital like this makes her chest ache.)
Jinja- no Se-ruzu (Ginger the Salesman, New for this book, date not given). The story starts out with brief snippets of the life of Ginger Garej (reads as "garage"), from his first job peddling fried chicken at a grocery store in Georgia, to selling Ferraris at a car dealership, then to convincing investors to supply money to support a war-torn African nation. He's got a silver tongue and is considered the best salesman in the U.S., although maybe also the most ruthless. Meanwhile, Touma and Kana are visiting one of Touma's former professors in the hospital. The professor has been hired by a bank to look for new investments, but he broke his leg while skiing and he asks Touma to take his place. As Kana and Touma are drinking coffee in the cafeteria, they see Ginger visiting his daughter. The girl, Hana, needs heart surgery, which is going to cost $800,000, and Ginger is desperate to get his next commission to make the payments. The banker in charge of signing investment contracts, Donald Hutt, is hostile to Touma at first, but settles down and calls in the consultant on the main project - Ginger. Ginger represents Universal Frontiers, a Texas operation trying to raise funds for the first hotel in space. They have a reusable orbital vehicle, the Rudolph 1, but it's just a mock-up. Hutt and Touma agree to visit the launch site, and UF has 1 week to get Rudolph working. During this time, Kana is following Ginger around, and she's desperate to see Hana get the surgery she needs. However, a comment Ginger casually makes hits Kana hard - Ginger was looking for Hutt's weak spots, adding that everyone has at least one. Kana thinks that her own is that she's meddlesome and easily swayed by a sob story, and suddenly suspects that the entire story involving Hana is a charade.
(Rudolph and the chalk mark.)
Kana reaches the hospital shortly before Hutt is to sign the contract with UF, and is reassured that Hana really is a sick girl, and Ginger's daughter. However, she now has to return to the launch site before Touma can ruin everything for the consultant. And Touma is prepared to do just that, since he'd put chalk on one of Rudolph's tires, and even after the flight demonstration, it's pretty clear that the shuttle never left the hanger. Questions: How did UF make it look like they had a working shuttle? Why is Touma so intent on revealing Ginger's lies? What is going to happen to Hana?
----------------- Spoilers ------------------
A little bit of science, basically involving privately-owned space exploration companies, and miniature movies effects.
Comments: The first chapter is rather slow-paced and plodding. The suspect is pretty easy to guess, but the motive doesn't surface until the very end. The second is a bit faster and more interesting, but Ginger isn't protrayed as a very likeable guy, and he's pretty manipulative, so the possibility that he'll lose to Touma isn't that much of a nail-biter, although Hana is more sympathetic. Recommended if you like the rest of the series.