In this tour-de-force picaresque novel, yakuza members and groups vie fiercely among themselves as they seek to recover a large pot of money made off with by a swindler.
Keisuke Ninomiya, 39, is a construction consultant. Because his father was an executive in the Nichōkai yakuza family, he has had associations with yakuza from childhood, and his primary business centers on using those connections to help advance construction and demolition jobs in which yakuza interests are involved. In the course of this work, he has gotten to know Yasuhiko Kuwahara, 41, one of the Nichōkai’s current executives. Ninomiya regards the hotheaded, quick-to-fight Kuwahara, who keeps saddling him with troublesome tasks, as something of a pest and would like to be rid of him, but besides the fact that they actually get on remarkably well, he depends on the man’s money, so he can’t say no to him. Amid a police crackdown that’s putting the crimp on yakuza sources of income and creating economic hardships for them, Ninomiya and Kuwahara become embroiled in a new round of troubles.
A movie producer named Koshimizu comes to Nichōkai seeking backing for a movie, then puts on a vanishing act with his lover and a total of 300 million yen. The Nichōkai’s number two, Shimada, has invested 13.5 million; Kuwahara, 1.5 million. The enraged Kuwahara calls on Ninomiya to help him track Koshimizu down, but along the way he gets into a fight with two young yakuza; though he wins the fight, the two turn out to be members of the Isei-gumi family, which belongs to the same large syndicate as the Nichōkai but at a far higher rank. Kuwahara subsequently gets into a fight with two other members of the Isei-gumi, and this time ends up with a serious stab wound in his chest, which damages his lung. Still nursing this wound and pursued by the Isei-gumi, Kuwahara and Ninomiya take their search for Koshimizu to a casino in Macau, where they succeed in apprehending the fraudster.
Even after putting together the money he owes to the syndicate, Kuwahara remains in an awkward position. If he is expelled by the Nichōkai, he will lose his protection and promptly be killed by the Isei-gumi. In the course of time it comes to light that a power struggle has been going on within Isei-gumi, and that Koshimizu had been put up to his financial swindle by one of the warring factions.
Though simple in premise, this exemplar of the hard-boiled genre is filled with twists and turns and high-tension face-offs between yakuza. It is the fifth installment in a series of novels featuring the Ninomiya-Kuwahara pair, which began with Yakubyōgami (The Pest) in 1997.