Detective Honma is on leave after having been shot in the leg. During his recuperation, a distant relative drops by out of the blue to ask for help finding his fiancee, Shoko, who has run away. Honma agrees to help through a bit of private investigation, though what he uncovers as he follows the few clues and leads is far more complex a mystery than he initially imagined.
He descends into a shady world of debt collectors, loan sharks, bankruptcy, dark secrets and identity theft. Best-selling author Miyuki Miyabe uses the novel to launch an all-out assault on the credit industry in Japan and the lack of legal protection given to those unfortunate enough to run up serious debts, as well as highlighting the entangled bureaucracy involved in family registers and proof of identity.
The novel is a real page-turner leaving the reader hungry for the next revelation, though on occasion the long-winded explanations of, for example, the way the credit industry works, expressed by minor characters to the main protagonist seem quite clearly intended to enlighten the reader more than Honma, who, one suspects, being an experienced detective, may well know a lot of this anyway.
Having said that, it doesn't detract at all from what is a hugely enjoyable book, and even though it was originally published in the early nineties, the central themes seem particularly timely in these troubled economic times.