Each case in this manga is a stand alone mystery, and we are still very early in the series. So while reading in order will be better to understand the recurring characters, it’s not necessary to enjoy the individual stories.
After three cases finding Hajime Kindaichi during his travels matters of life and death now visit him closer to home. When an old school building is scheduled for demolition threatening letters arrive from the “Afterschool Magician,” a legend around the school with ties to seven gruesome mystery stories passed down through the years. But the threats become something worse when the mystery club starts investigating the rumors.
Smoke and Mirrors is a solid blend of several plotlines that converge nicely at the end. Themes of magic and misdirection are incorporated well and provide nice layers and twists to the mystery. The ties to the school’s history and previous investigations into the seven mysteries added a good amount of intrigue to the story. As a whole I found this volume a slight step down from the previous ones, although not for any particular reason I can point to and it is still quite good. As usual there are clues throughout and while some story details will be beyond deduction the core of the mystery is solvable.
The translation of this particular mystery presented some extra difficulty for the publisher, which they handled well and explain in detail at the end.
Overall another solid installment featuring our favorite high school detective.