(hb; 1989, 2007: translated by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi)
From the inside flap:
"The three deaths come in quick succession: one girl jumps from the roof of a six-story building; another falls in front of a train; and the third is hit by a late-night taxi. But how are they related? And are they accidents, suicides or murders?
"Slowly, the answers are uncovered by sixteen-year-old Mamoru, the nephew of the taxi driver currently being held by the police on charges of manslaughter for the death of the third victim.
"Determined to help his uncle, Mamoru discovers that the girl killed by his uncle's taxi had participated in a devious scam to separate vulnerable men from their money, and that three of the four girls involved in the ploy are now dead.
"A powerful businessman comes forward with new evidence in favor of Mamoru's uncle and also to reveal the truth about Mamoru's long-lost father, who disappeared when the boy was only four.
"But in the meantime, Mamoru must go out if he is to save the last of the four girls being targeted by the real killer.
"And then the killer contacts him. . ."
Masterful, sublime, plot-twisty and tightly-executed work, with occasional touches of humor to lighten the suspenseful proceedings. The denouement is character-true, off-kilter and curiously humane, its tone distinctly Japanese (keeping with the down-played tone of the Japanese novels I've read in the past few months).
Perfect, this: worth purchasing and keeping.