Earlier this month, I returned to Motohiro Katou's Q.E.D. series with a review of vol. 11, which came after an unintended five-month-long break, but hopefully, I'll be able to come closer to vol. 30 than vol. 20 by the end of 2021 and have now arrived at vol. 12 – a sequel of sorts to the novel-length story in vol. 10. A story that had been recommended to me for over a year now.
The twelfth volume of Q.E.D. comprises, as usually, of two stories and begins with a relatively minor story, "In the Corner of the Galaxy," with a rarely used background.
"In the Corner of the Galaxy" opens with a televised panel discussion the possible existence of aliens and visitations to Earth. A UFO researcher, Megiyama Shunichi, claims to have more than enough proof of aliens to "force the government to release documents about them" and plans on holding an exhibition to present all of his accumulated evidence, but the skeptically-minded Professor Osamu Kotsuki asks for a bombshell revelation in "the form of indisputable evidence." What he shows them is a strange picture of an alien drawn by an American who claims to have been abducted by such a creature, which can hardly be considered evidence. One of the skeptics points out that drawings of aliens usually turn out to be copied from movies or book covers, but Professor Kotsuki ("who hates UFOs") finds the drawing to be quite interesting. Surprising everyone!
Professor Kotsuki turns up with a TV crew at Shunichi's warehouse, where he stored his "very valuable objects that prove aliens exist," which comprises of such items as "a can containing air from Mars" and "a signature of an alien from Saturn" (named Hobo Gas) – as well as "a sink for 3m tall aliens." Very tongue-in-cheek. However, the drawing gets stolen and the main suspect is Kana Mizuhara. So it falls to her friend and teenage detective, Sou Touma, to explain this quasi-impossible theft from the closely watched warehouse.
As a detective story, "In the Corner of the Galaxy" is very minor and the solution is neither particular ingenious, or memorable, but liked that it tackled something that has been consistently ignored by (Western) mystery writers. Curses, haunted houses and seances have been a staple of the (impossible crime) detective story ever since Edgar Allan Poe took a spare heart from the horror genre and buried it beneath the floorboards of the locked room mystery to give life to the detective story, but an extraterrestrial element would open up new possibilities and give an entirely different flavor to the detective story. But it has been rarely touched in the West. So a fun little story, but nothing special or memorable.
The second and longest story of vol. 12, entitled "Rainbow Mirror," is a sequel to the novel-length story from vol. 10, "In the Hand of the Witch," which begins with one of the murderers from that story receiving a visitor in prison, but the murderer drinks from a poisoned cup of juice and dies. So the guards immediately pounce on the visitor, Sou Touma! Luckily, there's security camera footage proving his innocence and is released, but where has he gone to? Kana Mizuhara, Yuu Touma (his sister) and Syd "Loki" Green go out to look for him, but someone is attacking and killing people who were involved in that old murder case.
These two linked stories are supposed to be two of the best stories in the series and they're certainly important, character-wise, as it touches on Touma's misfortune of attracting problems that hurt other people, but "In the Hand of the Witch" had a ramshackle plot and the focus on "Rainbow Mirror" was purely on character – not plot. This time, the story was trying to hard and it didn't work as well as the character-driven stories from previous stories. Even the ending missed, what was intended to be, the emotional gut-punch that landed so perfectly in other stories. And the plot of “Rainbow Mirror” walked back a major incident from "In the Hand of the Witch." So, no, this story didn't do it for me.
Regrettably, the end result is the weakest and least satisfying volume up to this point in the series, but this won't lead to another five, or six, month pause. You can expect another Q.E.D. review in February and it could be another twofer volume. So stay tuned!