Ghost Hunt 3 by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada: B+

From the back cover:
The psychoc investigators are going back to school—this time to solve a baffling mystery. Every student who sits at one particular desk is later caught in a train door and dragged away to who knows where. As if classes weren’t hard enough! And when Naru and Mai find themselves stalked by their own evil spirits, the case becomes even more bizarre.

Could this dastardly desk be the revenge of a quiet young girl named Chiaki? Or is there another unhappy soul to reckon with? One thing is certain: Voodoo dolls, bad vibes, and sinister curses won’t stop the psychic pals from solving their most difficult and dangerous case ever!

“Psychic pals.” *snicker*

I didn’t like this case all that much, really. There were no spooky moments to be had, and the outcome was pretty predictable. That said, it gave Mai an opportunity to be helpful with her powers of intuition and to provide Naru with an essential clue that he needed to solve the mystery. There was also a terrifically cute scene between them where they were both trapped and he distracted her with magic tricks.

I liked how Mai’s feelings for Naru did not prevent her from focusing on her work; she’s not a ditz who goes all stupid for a guy. Plus, even though Naru did make a couple of insulting comments about her lack of smarts, because she is competent and resourceful, I actually can believe that a cool and aloof guy like him might reasonably be interested in someone like her (as opposed to all the other inane shoujo heroines that somehow manage to win the bishounen’s affections).

Also in this volume, Mai expressed frustration that her contributions to the case could only be administrative, but the subtle development regarding her intuition paid off when Naru had her tested for psychic ability. I thought this plot was well-handled; the seeds were planted well in advance, but there was no frustrating lag waiting for someone to notice and give Mai something more challenging to do.

The supporting characters were still fairly useless and bland, all except the monk, who had a little more backstory revealed this time. Maybe the others will have their turns in future volumes.

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