A veteran policewoman battles a competitive squad room and witnesses with secrets.
Still stunned by the death of young cop Shinji Otsuka (The Silent Dead, 2016), tough Tokyo Police Lt. Reiko Himekawa catches a bizarre case that begins with the unearthing of a severed hand in the back of a Subaru van. Fingerprints and blood evidence indicate murder and identify the victim as Kenichi Takaoka, a subcontractor on big production contracts, though the rest of the body remains undiscovered. Reiko leads 10 teams of two officers in the probe. Unfortunately, the case also places her in close contact with rival Hiromitsu Ioka, recently transferred back to Tokyo from Kameari. The multiple planning meetings the investigation requires make gritty Reiko restless; she’d rather be in the field. One of Reiko’s detectives, Mamoru Kusaka, interviews Takaoka’s only employee, smooth, well-spoken Kosuke Mishima, who calls his dead boss “the old man.” Unsatisfied with Kusaka’s gentle touch, Reiko wants another shot at Mishima but must settle for his girlfriend, Michiko Nakagawa, who also happens to be his alibi. Reiko finds her nervous and drab, still grieving the shocking death of her father on a construction site months ago, and an obvious candidate for manipulation by Mishima. A parallel first-person narrative by Mishima counterpoints the investigation, filling in the picture and building to a climax. Readers should prepare for a surfeit of disconcertingly similar names: Kusaka, Kawada, Kamata, Kosuke, Kenichi, Kikuta.
The seventh in Honda’s series, and the second published in English, dives deep into the details of a complex investigation and the challenges facing a woman in a competitive working environment.