This hard-boiled suspense novel centers on Kuzuhara, the leader of a group that, for a price, caters to those who can no longer remain in Japan because they have gotten on the wrong side of the law, the yakuza, or both, helping them to disappear without a trace and escape to another country.
One day, a police detective seeks out Kuzuhara, who is living in hiding under an alias, and insists that he meet with a certain man. That man, Kochiyama, is a high-level official in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, currently on loan to the Cabinet Information Research Office. Later, indicating that he knows the nature of Kuzuhara’s current work as well as the fact that he remains wanted as the prime suspect in an 11-year-old murder, Kochiyama presents Kuzuhara with a deal he can’t refuse: he must find Rin Chuichi, the second son of a neighboring country’s "supreme leader" (though the country is never named, all signs point to North Korea), who is known to have entered Japan illegally; if he fails to find the man, he and the other three members of his team will be brought to justice. Kochiyama also informs Kuzuhara that Rin has hired another people-smuggler named Narutaki, based in western Japan, to get him out of the country again. Kuzuhara begins by carefully considering how his competitor is likely to move. At his request, two cops, Sakimura (female) and Ooide (male), are assigned to be his bodyguards; they do double duty as observers, keeping an eye on Kuzuhara as well. He is told he has only four days to find his quarry, because four days from now is when Chuichi must be back in his home country to attend his father’s 87th birthday celebration. Chuichi has an older brother, Kan, with whom a succession struggle is brewing. While Chuichi is in Japan meeting with prominent Americans, Kan is plotting with his country’s secret police and an organization of expatriate countrymen in Japan to assassinate his brother. Under a threat from the police, and parrying attacks by agents from the neighboring country as well as from the organization of its countrymen in Japan, Kuzuhara searches for Narutaki, hoping to join forces with him . . .
A master of suspense, Osawa is at his best as he weaves a thrill-filled tale around two rival immigration smugglers, a power struggle for the reins of state, political infighting among the police, and a variety of techniques for helping people hide from their pursuers and slip out of the country.