Whatever one makes of Kobe Abe's novels (Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another) and there are always several alternatives, one reads them with puzzled interest encroaching on fascination. This one, seemingly less enclosed than the two earlier books, is really just as equivocal--another Kafkaesque map without markers ""on the road to infinity""(?). The first person narrator is a detective hired by a young woman whose husband disappeared six months earlier leaving no clues except a box of matches. She seems curiously expressionless. She contends that her brother has worked on the case during this time but at the beginning he too seems to be a phantom. The detective shadowboxes in shady areas (a pornographic picture studio; a firm that sells an explosive gas) and as he speculates and hypothecates, the search becomes more and more imprecise in spite of direct events (the killing of the brother, the suicide of a helpful clerk). At the close, having instilled more ambiguous questions (who exists, who doesn't) the narrator begins to doubt even his own identity. . . . All of this takes place in a half world of enigma and evasion and it is a very special kind of metaphysical teaser.