A collection of puzzlers featuring journalist Machi Tachiarai, who was first introduced to mystery lovers in the best-selling novel Ō to sākasu (Kings and Circuses). The six stories included in this volume are variously set before and after the time frame of the novel. Machi was hired by a newspaper company straight out of college and worked there for six years before resigning to seek her fortunes as a freelance journalist.
The title story centers on events surrounding the collapse of a three-year-old Internet startup that Machi covered during her years as a newspaper reporter. Founded by Ichita Hayasaka when he was still a college student, the company in question operated an online store targeted at seniors for whom shopping has become difficult, offering them home delivery of both daily necessities and medical supplies. The site had been a hit, and following a period of rapid growth the company completed a successful IPO. But a subsequent attempt to expand into organic produce and meats did not go well, and ultimately brought the company down. Ichita and his sister Mari—who as head of PR had become the public face of the company through frequent TV appearances—both go into hiding.
Machi happens to be stationed at a regional bureau of the national daily Tōyō shinbun when the story hits the news. She knows from a previous assignment that the Hayasakas grew up in the area her office serves, so she sets about trying to track Mari down. In the course of her investigations, she encounters situations that test her mettle and judgment as a reporter. She is also faced with an ethical choice between maintaining her stance as a reporter or allowing human compassion to determine her actions. Will she make the right decision? . . .
In her portrayal here as well as in the other stories, the beautiful Machi emerges as a cool-headed, poker-faced woman of action. She avoids asserting herself in ways that might call attention, yet at key moments she surprises her investigative partners by getting straight to the heart of the matter in clear, concise terms. It’s worth noting that the cases she pursues invariably come to difficult and bitter ends. Rather than presenting her as an idealized heroine who lands spectacular news scoops, author Honobu Yonezawa appears to be putting Machi through the school of hard knocks as he shapes her into Japan’s newest crack investigator/journalist.