This novel follows three generations in a family of Tokyo cops over a span of six decades. The story begins in 1948, when Japan is still recovering from World War II. Soon after getting married, Seiji Anjo learns that his wife is pregnant. As a demobilized soldier back from French Indochina, the only work he's been able to find so far is day labor, but in an effort to secure a more stable income, he responds to a Metropolitan Police Department recruitment campaign. He is hired and posted to Ueno in the old-town, high-crime section of Tokyo where he grew up. He acquits himself well and earns regular promotions, until, in 1957, he becomes resident officer of a small community substation. But just three months later, while away from his post due to a fire that breaks out in a pagoda at a nearby temple, he falls to his death from a railroad bridge. Partly from resentment over the police department's failure to recognize that his father died in the line of duty and partly from a desire to pursue two murder cases that his father left unsolved, his eldest son Tamio decides to follow in Seiji's footsteps and become a cop when he graduates from high school. Thanks to his excellent grades at the police academy as well as to being the son of a cop, he is hand-picked to study the Russian language at Hokkaido University. His official appointment is with the Public Security Investigation Agency, and his infiltration target is the radical Red Army Faction of the student movement. Suffering from severe mental stress as an undercover agent, he dies in the line of duty just when he is on the verge of solving the two murder cases. His son Kazuya, who also becomes a police officer, finally zeroes in on the truth . . . A highly textured work that explores the policeman's code of conduct in the course of solving the ongoing mystery.
Keikan no joken (The Policeman's Law), a sequel featuring Kazuya, was published in 2011.