A scholar of drugs, speed, violence, gore, and Tokyo's teenage underground, writer/filmmaker Murakami (69, 1993, etc.) weighs in with a new novel that ably encapsulates the fin de siâ‰¤cle cultural detonation of Japanese youth. The ""coin locker babies"" (an apt metaphor for kids unmoored from tradition) are Kiku and Hashi, left in train-station lockers by their mothers shortly after birth, who grow up to become templates for a society losing its religion. Adopted and raised on a remote island in the shadow of a ghost town, Kiku embraces his athleticism and learns to polevault while Hashi, the punier of the two, cultivates an interest in music that will eventually lead to runaway success as a pop star. Separated for a while, both boys gravitate to Tokyo, where they are reunited in Toxitown, a haven for freaks and hustlers. The bisexual Hashi has met a recording tycoon who will transform him from sniveling prostitute into captivating media god; Kiku, by contrast, shacks up in a condo with a model named Anemone and her pet crocodile. When a scheme to reunite Hashi with his mother goes awry, resulting in the televised shotgun death of a woman who is really Kiku's mother, Kiku is charged with murder and sent to a juvenile detention facility, where he meets a gang of teen offenders and enlists them in his plot to exterminate the population of Tokyo with DATURA, a deadly experimental chemical agent. Meanwhile, Hashi, who has practically disowned his coin-locker brother, undertakes a wildly successful but psychologically debilitating tour in the company of his beleaguered wife and a band of dissolute gay hipsters. He and Kiku never reunite, but in the book's closing pages they reach an eerie, elliptical dâ€štente. Snyder's agile translation preserves much of the shock, beauty, and pathos in this apocalyptic minisaga of troubled times.