It took me almost a month to read this book, but that has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed it. In fact, it was written in such a tension-packed way that I was just too anxious to pick it up.
Out follows four Japanese women who work the night shift at a boxed lunch factory. The four women are friendly coworkers, but they do not often see each other outside of work. They all have very full home lives with their children and husbands. Their hard, but predictable lives change when one of the women kills her abusive husband and recruits her coworkers to help dispose of the body. Things don’t go as planned, and the women soon find themselves working against the police and an underground crime ring.
So, why was this book a nail-biter? The four women are just regular housewives who have never done anything murder-related. A couple of the women are particularly bad at being careful with what they do and say. It is obvious that their plan is going to be tripped up… it is just a matter of when and how. However, I am not at all saying that the character were badly written or that they made unrealistic or dumb decisions. The characters are actually great. There are some strong, independent women in here! I am sure readers will recognize the kinds of people in this novel (the quiet, serious one; the one who puts others before herself; the self-absorbed one; etc.) If your group of strictly “work-friends” decides to commit a crime, odds are that not everyone in the group is going to be able to pull off their part of the job perfectly.
Aside from the tension-filled plot and awesome characters, this book approaches sexism in modern-ish (2000’s?) Japan and it deals a bit with how Japanese people of mixed decent are viewed. There is also a fair bit of gore, assault, and rape within the book. It’s pretty dark in content, themes, and atmosphere. I did find the ending to be slightly disappointing, but I was happy that it did not turn into a “damsel in distress” trope. I gave this novel a solid 4 out 5 stars.