While on a business trip to Kobe, Tsuneo Asai receives the news that his wife Eiko has died of a heart attack. Eiko had a heart condition so the news of her death wasn't totally unexpected. But the circumstances of her demise left Tsuneo, a softly-spoken government bureaucrat, perplexed. How did it come about that his wife-who was shy and withdrawn, and only left their house twice a week to go to haiku meetings-ended up dead in a small shop in a shady Tokyo neighborhood? When Tsuneo goes to apologize to the boutique owner for the trouble caused by his wife's death he discovers that she led a double life. He eventually confronts her lover, and, in a moment of panic, kills him. The police are stymied, however Tsuneo, the brilliant bureaucrat who usually leaves nothing to chance but is now hunted as a common murderer, feels the pressure and starts making mistakes.
Seicho Matsumoto was Japan's most successful thriller writer. His first detective novel, Points and Lines, sold over a million copies in Japan. Vessel of Sand, published in English as Inspector Imanishi Investigates in 1989, sold over four million copies and became a movie box-office hit.
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