It is August 2002. The story begins when a man stops a woman from flinging herself in front of a train in a Tokyo subway station. Sarutora Naruseki, the male protagonist, is intensely alive and, as he puts it, "willing to give anything a try." He earns his living as a security guard, a personal computing coach, and occasionally as an extra in TV soaps. But what he really enjoys is sex—lots of it. Aiko, the daughter of a very wealthy family and a member of the same sports club, approaches Naruseki with a problem. Her husband, Ryuichiro, recently died in a car crash and she suspects that he might have been killed in an insurance scam. She asks Naruseki to look into the matter. A dodgy company called the Paradise Club had swindled Ryuichiro out of 50 million yen by selling him all sorts of absurdly overpriced junk—bedclothes that "can cure disease," health drinks, Buddha statues. Surely the Paradise Club had a motive for murder? Straight out of high school Naruseki had worked for two years in a private detective's office, even infiltrating a yakuza group, so he agrees to take the case. Meanwhile, the woman Naruseki prevented from committing suicide has fallen in love with him. It turns out that she too had run up huge debts with the Paradise Club, but was then blackmailed into masterminding some major swindles and murders for them—with Ryuichiro among her victims. This is an ingeniously crafted and enormously satisfying pseudo-coming-of-age novel, the last three chapters of which so totally upend expectations that it may change the reader's outlook on life.
13.4 x 13.4 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Honkaku Mystery Award, 2004
Mystery Writers of Japan Award, 2004
Konomys No. 1 Ranking, 2004