Good plot, realistic descriptions of Japan and well-written sex scenes
A bit short, with the sex scenes slowing down the plot
This enjoyable thriller follows the lives of four characters over a few days:
Yumiko, a slightly spoilt high school girl, who finds that she is being followed by sinister men in a blacked out car. Later that day, she is kidnapped by the yakuza and held to ransom, where she befriends her captor Shoko, a tough but humane young woman working for the gang.
Yumiko's father Iguchi, a high-flying businessman who has unwisely borrowed money from the yakuza gang to tide over his business and must desperately search for the funds to pay for the ever-increasing amount owed.
Takeda, a former employee of Iguchi, who is on the train to the resort of Kawaguchi-ko, having lost his job several weeks earlier, with the intention of ending his life to avoid the shame of being unable to keep up with his mortgage payments.
Tomoko, a lonely and sexually frustrated middle-aged housewife whose husband is always at work, who is searching for love and companionship and ends up having sexual encounters with a young man and then a young woman.
This is an easy-to-read and well-researched novel that describes the Tokyo I know (I've lived there since 2003) very well without resorting to cliches about Japan. The plot is good, with the early chapters written at a brisk pace, and events realistically and interestingly resolve themselves, though there is a bit of confusion about the timeline of different events. A couple of criticisms are that the book is rather short and that it is Tomoko heavy; she ends up getting a disproportionate amount of the action (in both senses of the word!). Although the sex scenes are well written (and provide a nice antidote to the curiously joyless and coercive nature of Japanese erotica), they rather overwhelm the book and slow down the plot. This is the first in a trilogy of novels, and I'm looking forward to reading the second and third parts.
Note that I was asked by the author to read and review the book, but this review is my entirely unvarnished opinion of the book.