What science and technology can achieve depends on the character of the user, and in the wrong hands is liable to become “forbidden magic” . . . In 2012, author Keigo Higashino published two volumes of short stories in his tremendously popular “Detective Galileo” series, featuring the physicist-sleuth Manabu (“Galileo”) Yukawa of Teito University, who solves mysteries with the help of science. The original editions of Kyozō no dōkeshi: Garireo 7 (The Virtual Clown: Galileo 7) and Kindan no majutsu: Garireo 8 (Forbidden Magic: Galileo 8) each contained four stories. When the two volumes were reissued in pocket paperback (bunko) editions, however, seven of the eight tales were brought together under the first title, while the last, originally titled Utsu (Shoot), was expanded into a full-length novel under the second title. It is this expanded tale?which the author himself has declared the best in the series?that is described below.
Political reporter Akiho Koshiba dies in a hotel suite due to massive bleeding triggered by an ectopic pregnancy. Her younger brother Shingo, a student at Teito University, plots revenge on Akiho’s lover, Dietman Jinsaku Ōga, who fled the scene rather than come to her aid. His weapon of choice is a railgun. He knew of the destructive power of the railgun from having built one as a member of the Physics Club in high school under the guidance of alumnus Manabu Yukawa, who was visiting the school for recruitment purposes. Dropping out of the university, he goes to work for a small factory and secretly pursues his scheme.?
Believing Shingo intends to target Ōga when he throws out the first pitch at a baseball game, detectives Kaoru Utsumi and Shunpei Kusanagi, together with Yukawa, search the streets surrounding the ballpark. They find Shingo’s car?with a railgun inside it. “This is it. This is the railgun from when he was in high school,” says Yukawa, and it appears they have successfully forestalled the attack. But Utsumi senses something odd about Yukawa’s behavior and decides to tail him.
When Yukawa finds Shingo, he is taking aim at Ōga with a new, more advanced version of the railgun. “I’m the one who got you started with this device, so if you’re absolutely determined to kill the man, then the responsibility is mine,” Yukawa says, offering to pull the trigger in Shingo’s stead. But knowing that Shingo thought the world of his late father, he begins to talk about how Shingo’s father had originally worked for an American defense contractor that produced land mines, but later came to regret his involvement, and after returning to Japan spent the rest of his life trying to undo his mistake through his research. His credo had been: “Science must never be used to harm people.” This message hits home with Shingo, and he gives up his vendetta against Ōga.