A tale of suspense in which two women who have been best friends since college plot and carry out the murder of an abusive husband.
The partners in crime are Naomi Oda, 28, who works at the venerable Aoi Department Store in Tokyo, and Kanako Hattori, 29, who has been a stay-at-home housewife since getting married the previous October to Tatsurō, a 31-year-old elite-track employee at a major bank. Shortly after the turn of the year, Tatsurō begins beating Kanako. When Naomi realizes what is happening to her friend, she recalls the domestic violence her mother suffered at her father’s hands and becomes enraged. She fixes on murder as the way to rescue Kanako from her intolerable situation. With part one narrated by Naomi and part two by Kanako, the story extends from the two women’s initial plotting of the murder in the spring, to their carrying it out in mid-June, and its unraveling in early August.
A Chinese man named Rin Ryūki becomes the linchpin of the plot. At the department store where she works, Naomi belongs to the out-of-store sales department that handles the accounts of big-spending customers, and having cultivated a friendship with Chinese businesswoman Ri Akemi in the course of her work, she frequents Chinatown, where she discovers Rin, an undocumented immigrant from China who happens to look just like Tatsurō. Naomi and Kanako approach Rin and ask him to fly from Tokyo’s Narita Airport to Shanghai using Tatsurō’s passport. Simultaneously, they frame Tatsurō with scandal by swindling ?10,000,000 from a wealthy client of Naomi who suffers from dementia, transferring the money into Naomi’s account, and having Rin make two ATM withdrawals of ?1 million each before his departure?dressing the entire scheme up to be Tatsurō’s doing. Then when Tatsurō returns from work late Friday night, they strangle him to death and take the body to a mountain pass near Mount Fuji to bury it. Since there is a record of him passing through immigration, so long as no body turns up after he is found to be missing, the police should assume he has fled the country rather than suspect foul play, and the bank is unlikely to press for an investigation either, in order to keep a lid on any scandal involving an employee. The women think they have committed a perfect crime.
But part two details how everything unravels. Suspicious of the way her brother has disappeared, Tatsurō’s sister Yōko hires a private eye to uncover the truth. As his investigation proceeds, it becomes increasingly clear that the murder had not been so well planned after all. Although Rin was supposed to remain in China, he returns to Tokyo less than two months later, and this becomes a turning point. Yōko has Kanako’s house bugged, and takes the information she thus obtains to the police. Kanako is called in for questioning by the police and finds herself in trouble, but a lawyer arranged for by businesswoman Ri manages to gain her release, and Kanako goes on the run with Naomi. Shaking off Yōko, who is still in pursuit, they have just passed through exit procedures at Haneda International Airport when the story comes to an end.
The very definition of nonstop suspense, the book is one that readers will find impossible to put down.