Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum
First published, 1992 as 'Kasha'; English translation, 1996
Kodansha International, 290 p.
(Book #30 for 2007, Book #1 for the Summer Mystery Challenge, Book #3 for the Japan Challenge)
As a lone detective, recovering from a gunshot wound, limps through the backstreets of Tokyo and further afield in search of a woman on the run, he discovers another world – the world of loan sharks and bankruptcy; of elaborate lies to conceal identity; of bad debts to “the good life” that can only be paid in blood.It managed to mostly keep my interest but the ending was rather anti-climactic. It was more of a ‘whydunnit’ than a typical whodunnit and while the detective’s perseverance to discover the truth was enough to carry me along, it lacked suspense or drama. It also felt a little bit dated, perhaps not surprising since it originally came out in 1992. After having read Natsuo Kirino’s Out and Ryu Murakami’s In the Miso Soup, the ‘crime’ wasn’t terribly shocking or original and I think those books do a better job of commenting on the effects of rampant consumerism or urban isolation. They were definitely more shocking and gruesome though. I always have a fondness for Japanese settings but that wasn’t enough to make this more than just an ok read. If I try any more of her books, it’ll be from the library.