Saturday, November 2, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 44 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 44, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(The Mystery Club witnesses a real murder.)

Chu-ba to Haka (The Tuba and the Grave, Monthly Shonen Magajin Plus, date not given). The Sakisaka High School's Mystery Club has gotten into trouble again. This time, they called the police to report a dead body in the park, but it just turns out to be a drunk salaryman passed out on a bench. The teacher in charge of their club bans them from the room for a week. In order to kill the time, the three members - Enari Queen, Homes and Mordar - go out to a hill for some star gazing. At one point, Enari witnesses someone getting strangled behind a factory building a block below them. The group places an anonymous call to the police, and the same detective from the park - Tomoji Sakaragaoka - shows up. This time, he's more eager to investigate the call, and brings a crime team with him (because there were two calls coming in to 119 at the same time). The suspect, Tsuneo Katsuno, owns the factory and he unlocks the building to show that it only contacts a tuba case and a mound of sand presumably made by neighborhood kids that snuck in and dug a fake grave. Tomoji expects to find a body, but the case only contains a tuba, and the grave is empty except for machine parts laid out like a robot body. Tsuneo is hauled into the station for questioning, then released the next day. Two days later, the body of the victim, Matsuda Kinaga, is found on a hill slope near a remote road. Touma steps in to help the Mystery Club. Kana's investigation turns up the fact that Kinaga and Katsuno used to play in the same jazz band in school. They'd been somewhat popular and were scouted by an American producer that wanted them to go to the U.S. to play in a Dixie band. None of the group could speak English, so Katsuno chose to stay in Japan and watched his future dry up, while Kinaga agreed to sign up with the producer and became relatively famous, to the point of having a concert performance scheduled in Tokyo on the day of the murder.

(The contents of the grave.)

The thing is, Katsuno had been at a friend's restaurant eating dinner at roughly the time of the murder, and was in custody immediately afterward. So, where did the body go, and how did it reappear outside of town?

No science. Just a straightforward Colombo-like mystery.

Question! (New for this book, date not given). At a Tokyo divorce counseling center, the Tanumas and the Kiriharas are going through difficult times. Both wives want out of the marriages. The elderly Hanako Tanuma claims her husband, Chouji, never listens to her. And the young Fumi Kitahara states that her husband, Katsuki, is blocking the future of their brilliant daughter, Mio. Mio has won an educational prize and the money could go towards a better education in the U.S., but Katsuki refuses to give up his job in Japan. Both families are headed for the rocks. A few days later, Fumi receives an invitation to a mountain resort. She drives Mio to the location given in the hopes of having a quiet time with her daughter, but it seems that individual invitations were also sent out to Katsuki, both Tanumas, and Touma. Touma arrives with Kana and Loki and sees the four adults yelling at each other. A caretaker shows up, but has no idea who sent the invitations. The group settles down in the living room and compares letters. Each one has a question directed to them, except for Touma's, which has the formula z^n = y^n + x^n (n > 2). Touma explains that this is Fermat's Last Theorem. Turns out that the resort was designed by someone that loved math, the arts and the sciences, and the roads are laid out like the elliptic curves discovered by Gerhard Frey, and a map of the grounds has an x-y grid with cabins at locations for solutions of the modular proof, the variant proposed by the Japanese mathematicians Goro Shimura and Yutaka Taniyama, who'd helped pave the way for Andrew Wile's final proof of Fermat's theorem.

(Map of the grounds, with the road shaped based on an elliptic curve.)

Each of the cabins have further puzzles for the two couples. Fumi had studied Spanish in school in the hopes of getting a job overseas, but her father prevented her from traveling (which is why she's so angry now about her husband dragging his heals over Mio going to the U.S). Her favorite book had been Erendira, by G.G. Marquez. Finding the book in the library, Fumi opens it and a wooden tile falls out. There's a wooden plaque in the lobby with y^2 = x^3 + __, and the tile, with "17" on it fits into the blank space. For Hanako, it's a question of flowers. She loves flowers, but her husband had moved to an apartment without a balcony. She complained about it, but he'd stopped listening to her. A tile under one vase is marked "x". Then it's Katsuki's turn; he used to play piano, but he had to give it up when he got married and moved into a smaller place. Fumi complains that women are always blocked by men and that men have infinite freedoms to do anything they want. She's only now realizing what Katsuki had sacrificed for his family. His clue are three untuned strings in the piano, marked "M" "O" and "D", pointing to the modular approach to Fermat's theorem. Last, it's Chouji's turn. His question relates to various Egyptian statues, and the tile they find is marked "2". Chouji had loved to travel when he was younger, but when he raised the issue with Hanako, she'd just reply asking "who would care for my plants"? So, she's shocked to realize that she'd been the one to stop listening first.

Finally, the clues point to the remaining cabin. The previous owner is there, but he's not the one that had sent the invitations. He explains that he'd belonged to a rich family and had spent all his time studying everything that had caught his interest, from math to flower arranging. But, over time, he'd gotten estranged from his family, ran through his money, and watched as the family's company's backers bought up his resort and sold it off. He's been instructed to act as an example of what happens when you make the wrong decisions. On the other hand, you never know they're wrong at the time. At the end of the stay, Chouji has agreed to sell his apartment and he and his wife will make new plans. They also tell the divorce counselors that they've reconciled. While waiting for the next bus, Touma tells Kana and Loki who had sent out the invitations, and why he'd also been picked to attend the vacation. And, back at the counseling office, Fumi and Katsuki have agreed to let Mio decide who she wants to live with. The story ends before she can answer.

(The power of elliptic curves as it relates to solving Fermat's theorem.)

All of the science involves Touma talking about the history of the solution of Fermat's Last Theorem. Great artwork this time.

Comments: "The Tuba and the Grave" is another conventional mystery, very similar to the one with the cello, Twisted Melody, but with a less likeable villain. "Question!" has LOTS of math, if you like this kind of thing, which I do, but the whole premise of the story is pretty contrived. Recommended if you want hard core science with your dead bodies.

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