Having already failed at both his stockbroking job (he got caught covering his speculations with clients’ money) and his own firm, Shigeo Segawa doesn’t expect much from his next job. So he’s pleasantly surprised when a tip from Kazumi Yamaguchi, an ex-lover who’s still carrying a flame for him, leads him to Mikio Sakai, owner and manager of the fledgling Shinwa Trading Company. There’s only one catch behind the generous salary and the promised partnership that Sakai dangles before him: his work selling massage machines is only a cover for Shinwa’s real business, industrial espionage. Is Segawa willing to earn his way back to the big time by tricking his former friend Shoichi Ogino, executive director of the Shichiyo Chemical Company, into giving him a peek at the formula for the new wonder compound paramizol? Before you can say “major yen,” Segawa’s wormed his way back into Ogino’s confidence and his wife Eiko’s bed, and he’s making real progress with Setsuko Kondo, secretary to paramizol wizard Tatsuji Nishiwaki. Then, without warning, a murder brings all Segawa’s plans to a screeching halt—a murder for which he’s the obvious suspect. The cops work hard, but the detection here is less interesting than the proposed crime. Before murder spoils everything, though, Takagi (The Tattoo Murder Case, 1998) achieves some of the brilliantly brutal effect of a more polite David Mamet.