Masako Katori and her coworkers Yoshie, Kuniko, and Yayoi all work the night shift at a boxed lunch factory in the Tokyo suburbs. Each of the women has disagreeable elements in her home life from which she longs to escape (unresponsive or unappreciative families, abusive spouses, overextended credit lines, etc.). When Yayoi snaps one night and strangles her good-for-nothing husband Kenji, Masako and the others must dispose of the body. Led by Masako, the women engage in increasingly grisly business to liberate themselves, not only from evidence of their crime, but from the social and financial burdens that have been suffocating them. Just as things start to go right, everything starts to go wrong: at least two of the women commit careless, lazy mistakes that betray and endanger the others, and Masako must find a safe way out of the danger that threatens to destroy her.
Notable subplots involve a Brazilian-Japanese coworker whose relationship with Masako begins with an attempted sexual assault, and ends in friendship, and a successful club owner who has been ruined because he is (wrongly) suspected of Kenji's murder; he turns out to have darker secrets hiding in his past. This is Natsuo Kirino's first novel published in English, but she is one of Japan's most successful mystery writers; Out won both the Naoki Prize and Japan's top mystery award.
This report prepared by A. J. Bell